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, Chip DiPaula Jr., will replace Kreseski, who will leave in mid-July to pursue private sector lobbying in Washington.

Kreseski said his departure had been in the works for some time, and he described the changes as "the opposite of a shake-up."

In addition to overseeing the governor's staff, Kreseski has played the role of chief strategist. Kreseski, trained as a lawyer, has built a career as a behind-the-scenes adviser to Ehrlich.

He 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.

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.

Replacing DiPaula will be Deputy Secretary Cecilia Januszkiewicz.