Sen. John Kerry has the perfect audition piece for the secretary of state job he appears to covet — the long-stalled Law of the Sea treaty.

He’s come armed with a throng of industry backers and pleas from the country’s top officials. But a cadre of conservatives remains determined to sink it.

The international treaty, which governs use of the world’s oceans and affects everyone from shippers to telecom companies, has withered in the Senate for almost two decades. If Kerry fails to slip it through this session, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman doesn’t just miss out on the lead role. He loses treaty supporter and Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), along with other willing moderates.

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