Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is shuffling his staff to account for the departure of Chief of Staff Steven L. Kreseski, a loyalist who has worked with Ehrlich so long that he has called himself "the constant who was always there."
Ehrlich's budget secretary and former campaign manager, Chip DiPaula Jr., will replace Kreseski, who will leave in mid-July to pursue private sector lobbying in Washington.
"Steve Kreseski and Chip DiPaula have been a part of every success this Administration has enjoyed," Ehrlich said in a statement released late yesterday.
Kreseski said his departure had been in the works for some time, and he described the changes as "the opposite of a shake-up." DiPaula is one of the handful of advisers who has a place in the governor's inner circle. As a result, he is expected to shift into the new job without leaving much of a wake.
In addition to overseeing the governor's staff, Kreseski has played the role of chief strategist since Ehrlich became the first Republican to lead Maryland in a generation. Kreseski, trained as a lawyer, has built a career as a behind-the-scenes adviser to Ehrlich.
He served as Ehrlich's chief of staff during four terms in Congress, was an architect of his long-shot campaign for governor, and has been directly involved in many of the most controversial issues to face the administration -- including medical malpractice reform and most memorably as a champion of the star-crossed plan to sell St. Mary's County parkland to a Baltimore builder.
DiPaula's move comes as Ehrlich is preparing his 2006 reelection bid, and he is a more overtly political figure than was Kreseski. DiPaula managed the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) once described him as being "like Ronald Reagan incarnate in a little teeny body."
DiPaula's portfolio has been much bulkier than that traditionally assigned to a budget secretary. He has lobbied the legislature for slot machine gambling, advised the governor on political matters and served as a sort of goodwill ambassador to Democrats at odds with Ehrlich's administration.
Replacing DiPaula as secretary of the Department of Budget and Management will be Deputy Secretary Cecilia Januszkiewicz.