Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is the clear favorite to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Susan Rice no longer in the running.

While Obama has yet to make a decision on who would replace Clinton, Kerry and Rice had always been seen as the top candidates. With Rice out of the picture, many political observers believe the job is Kerry’s to lose.

“If I were to be in Vegas or at off-track betting or at a cocktail party, I’d say that my sense is that indicators point to him,” said a former Foreign Service Officer who’s close to Rice. “The president has known him for a long, long time . . .They’ve worked together very closely on everything from [nuclear disarmament] to confirmation hearings. They worked closely in the debate prep and so on.”

ABC on Friday reported Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is already making plans to fill Kerry’s Senate seat and has already had a discussion with Vicki Kennedy, the widow of former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).