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Deval Patrick’s chief of staff to step down

Governor Deval Patrick’s chief of staff, Brendan Ryan, will step down this summer and join Patrick’s political action committee while hunting for a better-paying job, he said Thursday.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan, a former mayor of Westfield, will take over as Patrick’s chief of staff, the sixth person to hold the job during the two-term administration.

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Ryan, an early Patrick follower who rose from campaign driver through the ranks to become one of the governor’s closest confidantes, will take an advisory role with Together PAC, but said his presence did not indicate a ramping up of Patrick’s political ambitions.

The move, Ryan said, would allow him to seek private-sector opportunities that might have posed ethical challenges to pursue while he remained in the administration. He said he had discussed the quandary with the governor and the two had agreed on the strategy for exit, which he said would occur after Patrick signs the state’s annual operating budget, likely in July.

“There’s not a Senate seat open,” he joked, referring to his predecessor, former Patrick chief of staff Mo Cowan, stepping into an interim senator role following John F. Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State.

Ryan’s departure comes as the latest in a hollowing-out of Patrick’s administration, as long-time aides have left and his legislative agenda has all but disappeared, much of its time consumed instead with patching up problems.

Sullivan, who has served as the state’s energy and environment chief since 2011, worked as the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation commissioner after a stretch as Westfield mayor from 1994 to 2007. In the final months of Patrick’s administration, much of Sullivan’s portfolio will center on stewarding the governor’s legacy and working to help the administration, in Patrick’s words, “run through the tape.”

Together PAC is headed by Patrick’s former campaign manager, John Walsh, and was initially perceived as a repository for Patrick’s 2016 political ambitions. But the governor has disavowed any short-term national ambitions, and said instead that he, too, hopes for a more lucrative position once he steps down at the end of this year.

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at Jim.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.
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