The Massachusetts Democrat Senator John Kerry is being touted as the firm favorite to replace Barack Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in the upcoming Washington shake up.

Kerry, who was a presidential nominee in 2004, has had a long desire to be secretary of state, but on Monday the Washington Post reported that Obama had plans for him. These rumors come as Obama begins his reshuffle of the Cabinet and other key position at the beginning of his second term in office.

It seems that Susan Rice, currently the US ambassador to the United Nations, could replace Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State. However, she’s being viewed on the Hill as a tough sell due to controversy surrounding her role in the administration’s initial portrayal of the events of the 11th September 2012 attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

However the Post maintains that Obama is ready to “dig in his heels” and help Rice overcome this scrutiny from the Republican senators.

It is also believed that John O Brennan, the President’s principal counterterrorism adviser, may be offered the CIA director position. Otherwise Michael Morell who is currently the acting director will be considered as the leading candidate.

Leon Panetta testifies on Capitol Hill in WashingtonSusan Walsh AP