Scott McLellan may have just announced his resignation, but speculation over who would take his place has been rife ever since Josh Bolten came in to replace Andy Card. McLellan, just as beleaguered a member of the administration as Rumsfeld but by far less protected, has seemed ripe for replacement for a while (Arianna described him as "the poster boy for being burned out and off your stride"). There's obviously been a lot of speculation on this point, but here's why I think it's going to be Dan Senor.
Last month, Fred Barnes was the first to float Senor for the job (that I can tell). That was on March 20th - the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Since that day, Senor's profile has risen with his recent marriage to Campbell Brown and the subsequent speculation over McLellan's job. Back on March 20th, however, I was pretty sure Senor was coming up the ranks.
Why? Google alerts. I have Dan Senor on Google alert, which means I get an email anytime a new reference is generated about him online. I signed up for a slew of media-themed alerts back when was at FishbowlNY (including in no particular order: Brian Williams, Frank Rich, Judith Miller - who pings CONSTANTLY - Bill Keller, Anderson Cooper, David Remnick, and our own Arianna Huffington). My reason for signing up for alerts on Senor was personal, not professional: I know him. We both grew up in Toronto, and went to summer camp and college together. I have watched his rise with pride (and mixed feelings about his chosen party) over the years.
The point is, these Google alerts don't come all that frequently - at least, they didn't used to. However, in the days leading up to the anniversary of the start of the war, they started coming faster - Senor was suddenly everywhere, commenting optimistically on the state of Iraq, citing impressive voter turnout, overall benefits outweighing costs, and defending the CPA. A few days later he was on the Colbert Report painting a hopeful picture of Iraq and saying that things were "right on target" (watch here - it is worth a look, if only for Colbert's brilliant "showing both sides of the story" zinger).
Now, of course, the Google alerts are on fire - as I'm sure they would be if I had gone to summer camp with Dan Bartlett, Tony Snow, or Trent Duffy. But what those March Google alerts tell us is that Dan Senor has remained an administration spokesperson on the Iraq war, and is someone who is experienced in responding to questions - and criticisms - with statstics, anecdotes, and arguments that seeks to support the position that the war in Iraq is going well.
This isn't just spin for him, either - he was over in Iraq, lived there during tumultuous times - he believes what he's saying. He's the youngest contender for the job at 34, which demonstrates a generational commitment to the war in Iraq and sends a strong message of intergenerational support for the Administration (NB like new WH manager of policy development Joel Kaplan).
He also happens to be articulate, smart (Valedictorian, Harvard MBA), and - don't shoot the messenger! - a charismatic and likeable guy (I have seen him dance the Hulaha with children, clown it up on stage and joke with my mom, okay? Trust me). Hotline thinks that this, and his union with Campbell Brown, will ding him; I happen to think that it wouldn't hurt to have a press secretary with a little charisma (sorry Scotty, but stoic=boring) and having the imprimatur of the equally well-liked (and White House press corps vet!) Brown doesn't hurt, either.
I could be wrong - I haven't asked Senor anything about this (and actually haven't seen or spoken to him since running into him this summer) and divining the meaning of Google alerts isn't exactly a science (though consider this and this). Still, it's gotta be someone, and I think there are some pretty compelling reasons that it will be him (George Stephanopoulos agrees with me). Being Teen Unit Head at Camp Winnebagoe was never a guarantee for any job, but we did learn something at camp: optimism. The motto was "It never rains at Winnebagoe when there's sunshine in your heart." That kind of attitude in this kind of White House is exactly what the next press secretary will need.
UPDATE: In answer to some of the comments below - this post is about why I am predicting that Senor will be made McLellan's successor. It's a prediction, not an endorsement.