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William F. Galvin, reluctant understudy, gets ready to serve as backup governor, again

Secretary of State William Galvin began his career in the early 1970s as an aide to the Governor’s Council.
Secretary of State William Galvin began his career in the early 1970s as an aide to the Governor’s Council.Credit: Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

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Next month, William F. Galvin will find himself thrust into the role of backup governor, a heartbeat away from the office he has coveted but never formally sought.

When Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray resigns on June 2, Galvin, the veteran secretary of state, will be second-in-line for the highest office in Massachusetts and will serve as acting governor when Deval Patrick travels out of state.

Yet no one expects him to storm into the Corner Office and hang his own portrait above the fireplace. He has filled this role under previous Republican governors and won praise for staying out of the limelight and tending quietly to the necessary functions of the office.

“It’s not a big deal, to be very honest,” said Galvin, who is known more for his competence than his charisma. “I don’t go to the governor’s office and spin myself around in the chair. This is about making government work, and it’s really about communication with the governor.”

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