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AP interview: Patrick says no firm plan on future, will not be 'pundit' after leaving office

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BOSTON — Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday he has no intention of being a "pundit" when he steps down in January, but he is leaving his professional and political future wide open.

During an interview with The Associated Press, Patrick acknowledged receiving a variety of feelers but insisted he had no firm plans beyond a vacation with his wife, Diane, immediately after his tenure ends with the swearing-in of his successor, Republican Charlie Baker, on Jan. 8.

He added that any consideration of a presidential bid — he has ruled out 2016 but not beyond — would hinge on several factors, including the sentiment of his family.

"Looking ahead, if there is an opportunity to contribute and I think I have something to contribute and the time is right for my family and me and for the country, I might give it a shot," Patrick said.

"I'm not being cute. I really don't have a plan," he added.

But staying in the public eye while weighing such an option, the governor said, is not of major importance to him.

PHOTO: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick speaks during an interview at his Statehouse office in Boston, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. Patrick says he still has made no decisions about his future after leaving office. His final day as governor is Jan. 8.  (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick speaks during an interview at his Statehouse office in Boston, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. Patrick says he still has made no decisions about his future after leaving office. His final day as governor is Jan. 8. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

"I don't want to be a pundit. I don't think I'm entitled to have an opinion on everything, probably unlike most political people," Patrick said.

Patrick, the nation's second black governor, did not seek re-election to a third term. Noting that he often deflected speculation that he might leave office early to serve in President Barack Obama's administration or for any other reason, he said his oft-stated intention of completing his second term before returning to the private sector had never changed.

He recently filed a disclosure form with the state Ethics Commission revealing he had discussed an opportunity to participate in a new innovation center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He indicated Monday that if he accepted such an offer, it would amount only to a "loose affiliation" with MIT.

Patrick defeated Baker in the 2010 gubernatorial race and campaigned for Baker's Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, before the most recent election. But the governor said he has pushed politics aside to ensure a smooth transition for Baker.

"It's really important that he succeed," Patrick said.

While declining to disclose details of private conversations he's had with the governor-elect since Nov. 4, Patrick mentioned at least a couple of challenges his successor will face almost immediately on taking office.

One is a state budget deficit estimated at $329 million by his administration. While Patrick has ordered several unilateral actions to close the gap, other steps requiring legislative approval are not likely to occur before Baker takes office.

And because winter is near, Patrick advised his successor to quickly get up to speed on the state's emergency management systems so he can step in if necessary in the case of severe weather.

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