"We could not be more grateful for everything you've done. Not just for me and my administration, but for the entire country."
With those words, President Obama said a fond farewell to one of his longest-serving and most high-profile Cabinet members Thursday, as Attorney General Eric Holder announced his plans to retire.
The Washington Post notes that with Holder's exit, Obama will only have two Cabinet members who've served in their roles for the full six years: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
But Holder isn't leaving right away: the attorney general is sticking around until Obama can nominate a successor. Which brings us to the big question: who's taking over for Holder?
Some potential candidates have already quashed rumors that they'd be seeking the role, including Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick...
DEVAL PATRICK ON NEW ENGLAND CABLE NEWS: "I have no plans and no interest in making plans to be the next Attorney General."
...Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse...
WPRI REPORTER: "'I have no interest in other positions.'"
...and California's AG Kamala Harris, who said in her own statement: "I am honored to even be mentioned, but intend to continue my work for the people of California."
Currently, the smart money is on U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., best known for his fumbled but ultimately successful defense of the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court in 2012. (Video via SCOTUSblog)
However, the field is anything but narrow. U.S. attorney Preet Bharara is a possible replacement. He's known for aggressively pursuing financial fraud and successfully trying terrorism suspects in New York's criminal courts. (Video via Businessweek)
Loretta Lynch's name is also being floated as another potential candidate. A U.S. attorney who served during the Clinton administration, Lynch recently indicted New York Rep. Michael Grimm on fraud charges. (Video via C-SPAN)
Another prospect: Kathryn Ruemmler, formerly Obama's top legal adviser. Her previous closeness to the president makes her a strong contender for the role, but might raise some questions about potential conflicts of interest.
The list of potential nominees goes on and on. But whoever the President's going to pick, chances are he's going to do it fast.
ED HENRY ON FOX NEWS: "Bottom line is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to potentially get a successor confirmed as soon as possible."
Politico's Glenn Thrush writes Holder timed his departure so the administration could rush a candidate through the nomination process, in case Republicans took control of the Senate after the midterms. "It was now or never, several current and former administration officials say, and Holder – under pressure to retire from a physician wife worried about a recent health scare, checked the 'now' box."
Thanks to last year's "nuclear" filibuster reform, whomever Obama picks will only need 51 votes to get through Senate confirmation hearings. But that rule could change if Republicans get the Senate.