Ousted Rep. Berman may replace Secretary of State Clinton

Democratic Rep. Howard Berman greets supporters on election night in Encino.
(Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times)

Rep. Howard Berman this week lost his job representing the San Fernando Valley to Rep. Brad Sherman, but he could emerge from the experience with a fancier title and a big blue plane.

Berman, who has been chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is among those now mentioned by U.S. officials as a possible replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when she departs next year. Berman, 71, has worked closely with the White House over four years on sensitive issues such as Iran and is known as competent and discreet, traits much prized by President Obama.

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the most often mentioned candidate for the job, but Kerry’s departure could risk loss of a Democratic Senate seat to Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who was beaten this week by Elizabeth Warren and would be a strong candidate for a new opening. Another much mentioned candidate, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, could face a tough confirmation fight because of GOP allegations that she issued misleading public statements after the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.


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Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), the current ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is said to be another candidate for the job.

Berman, a lawyer and Los Angeles native, was first elected to the House in 1982. Trade has been another focus of his efforts in Congress and he has looked out for the interests of the entertainment industry.

Berman would be the fourth Californian in the past eight secretaries, along with Condoleezza Rice, Warren Christopher, and George P. Shultz.

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