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Patrick denies he’s in line to be next US attorney general

Governor Deval Patrick
Governor Deval PatrickLynne Sladky/AP File

Governor Deval Patrick on Thursday publicly denied rumors that he is in line to be the next US attorney general.

Patrick told the Globe it was “mind-blowing to be mentioned in those contexts,” but acknowledged some weariness at the now-familiar pattern of his name surging to the top of lists about federal jobs, despite his repeated statements that he will serve out his term.

And he repeated his insistence that his first career step out of the corner office will not be into another government post.

“As soon as I know what my next job is, I will tell you, I promise. But it will be in the private sector,” he said.

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A flurry of speculation erupted Thursday morning after news broke that Attorney General Eric Holder would be resigning. Patrick, the top civil rights enforcer in the Justice Department under President Clinton, is a perennial mention when any top spot in Washington opens. He is close personally with President Obama and, come January when his term ends, will be available for new employment opportunities.

Patrick has consistently ruled out interest in federal posts and has said he would like to explore more lucrative, private-sector opportunities.

One long-time adviser said that Patrick would be great at the job, “but he’s also had a successful private sector career and after eight years in public life I think he’s ready to get back to that.”

This time, though, Patrick’s travel schedule only fueled speculation.

Patrick had a Cabinet meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursday, and then planned to leave for Washington afterward, according to his official schedule, released late Wednesday. His stated reason for being in D.C. is for events with the Congressional Black Caucus. He may also attend a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee.

“The president has not made a final decision on a replacement for Eric Holder,” a White House official said, “and therefore will not be making an announcement for his replacement today.”

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Patrick’s political image has been dented by a string of mismanagement scandals, including at the state drug lab and major problems at the state’s Department of Children and Families.

Despite the governor’s denials, Senator Elizabeth Warren — campaigning with gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley in Chelsea Thursday — hinted that Patrick would be an ideal replacement for Holder.

“I happen to be very fond of the current governor of Massachusetts,” she said. “I don’t want to start any rumors here. I have not spoken with the governor about this and don’t know what the governor’s wishes are.”


Akilah Johnson of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at Jim.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.