A look at the next US. Secretary of State market by RKRKRK
The Betfair market makes Trump’s pick Rex Tillerson an overwhelming favourite at c. 90% to be confirmed by the US Senate.
Historically nominees normally make it through – the last Cabinet nominee rejected by the Senate was back in 1989. However nominees also sometimes withdraw from the process- Obama lost 3 nominees that way: Tom Daschle (unpaid taxes), Bill Richardson (investigation for pay-to-play allegations) and Judd Gregg (Republican who changed his mind citing disagreements over stimulus bill and US Census).
But why might Tillerson be unsuccessful?
It’s clear that Tillerson’s extremely close relations with Russia will prove an issue. Obama has ordered a review into Russian interference which will ensure media focus on Russian relations. Will the Senate hearings turn up other issues from Rex’s past?
Tillerson’s nomination must pass through the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and then pass a vote in the Senate. Republicans have a 10-9 advantage in the Committee so only one Republican needs to join the Democrats to block his nomination.
However Tillerson does have the support of the Committee Chairman Bob Corker- who has also stated his committee will not demand to see tax returns. Tillerson also has support from GOP foreign policy heavyweights Condoleeza Rice, Robert Gates and James Baker.
For the nomination to fail in the wider Senate vote would require three Republican rebels as well as a united front from Democrats. Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have both stated they intend to push stronger sanctions against Russia in the next Congress. They will hardly be keen then to approve a Secretary of State who has previously lobbied to have Russian sanctions lifted.
Marco Rubio is another potential rebel– he says he has “serious concerns” – but unlike Graham and McCain he still has Presidential ambitions to consider. Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has also expressed some reservations.
Democrats are fuming at Trump’s rejection of Russian interference in the election and may sense the prospect of dealing Trump a major defeat early on. Graham and McCain have little to lose from opposing Trump, but I suspect other Republican Senators will be hesitant and will seek strength in numbers if they do choose to rebel.
It’s not likely that Tillerson will fail- but I think it’s tempting at the available odds. I’ve laid Tillerson a little and also taken a small punt on Romney at 119/1.