Leslie Gromis Baker of Pittsburgh will become Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's chief of staff, his office announced.

Baker, 53, will succeed Stephen Aichele, who was Corbett's chief counsel for nearly 17 months. Aichele, the husband of Secretary of State Carol Aichele, will assist Baker in the transition before leaving for private practice. Before joining Corbett's administration, Aichele was chairman of Philadelphia law firm Saul Ewing LLP.

The move comes as Corbett, who took office in January 2011, faces low favorability poll ratings and a failed effort to win legislative approval for policy initiatives such as pension overhaul, transportation funding and liquor-store privatization.

Fitch Ratings on Tuesday downgraded Pennsylvania's general-obligation bonds to AA, citing a rising unfunded pension liability. Standard & Poor's also rates them AA, while Moody's Investors Service assigns an equivalent Aa2 rating.

Baker, a Reading, Pa., native, is now Corbett's liaison with the federal government in Harrisburg and Washington. Baker, the founder and president of political consulting firm LG Strategies Inc., was co-director of Corbett's gubernatorial transition team and was his senior advisor during the 2010 election.

She also worked for former Gov. Tom Ridge and directed the statewide presidential campaign of George W. Bush in 2000.

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