Richie to head governor's political team

Dorchester's Charlotte Golar Richie, a top government relations adviser to Gov. Deval Patrick, is leaving the administration to helm Patrick's political operation, according to sources familiar with the change.

A former lawmaker and housing chief in Boston, Richie joined Patrick as senior director of federal, state and community affairs in July 2007, as the administration was recovering from early difficulties.

Patrick's current political committee chief, Liz Morningstar, who helped guide Patrick from a political unknown to a national profile, is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

The changes are part of a larger restructuring that has not been made public, as Patrick gears up for both the second half of his term and, according to his public statements, a re-election campaign. Much of the final two years of Patrick's term will be spent salvaging parts of his agenda from the biting impact of the recession.

Already, Patrick has acknowledged he will have to back off parts of his ambitious education reform plan.

Patrick discussed the change in committee leadership at a fundraiser for his Seventy-First Fund last Wednesday evening. The governor has said he plans to run for re-election in 2010.

Lawmakers credited Richie with helping to organize an Election Day meeting in November 2007, of about two-dozen of Patrick's early political supporters in the House of Representatives. It was the first time the corps of early backers had met with Patrick's top aides.

Before working as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's housing chief, the Meetinghouse Hill resident served in the House of Representatives from 1994-1999. The Fifth Suffolk district which she represented includes parts of Dorchester and Roxbury. Richie was succeeded in a special election by State Rep. Marie St. Fleur.

Morningstar was in the early core of an election team, along with Doug Rubin, now Patrick's chief of staff, and John Walsh, now state Democratic Party chairman, that molded a campaign around a captivating but politically untested newcomer and shaped it into a landslide victory for Patrick in both the primary and general elections.

"I want to try something new," Morningstar said through a spokesman.

Patrick said shortly after Sen. Barack Obama was elected president that he expected the administration to lose some ranking officials to Obama as the Chicago Democrat built his administration. During the last few weeks, Obama has filled many of the top posts in his administration, with Massachusetts officials largely bypassed.