INQUIRER HARRISBURG BUREAU - Gov. Corbett's top staffer will soon be leaving.

Bill Ward, Corbett's longtime friend, confidante and chief of staff, will resign his post for another job. Ward could not be reached for immediate comment Thursday morning. Corbett will nominate Ward, of Pittsburgh, to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Corbett's spokesman, Kevin Harley, declined to comment.

Corbett has announced that he will nominate his general counsel, Stephen Aichele, to replace Ward .

Ward's departure comes as the governor faces increasing pressure to address what some in top state Republican circles believe is a growing image problem. The Inquirer has reported that the governor's top political advisers, supporters and fund-raisers have been encouraging him to shake things up in his administration.

Next week, a small circle of heavyweights in the Republican Party known as the governor's "kitchen cabinet," plan to meet with Corbett in Harrisburg to push for changes to his top staff, according to four sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

Their quarrel is not over policy, but with what some senior state Republicans see as political clumsiness: an inability or unwillingness to sell his agenda and his successes to the public. At the same time, they say, Corbett has allowed a tense, and possibly dysfunctional relationship with the Republican-controlled legislature to fester.

The meeting is intended to drive a sobering point home, the sources said. It is being described as a "tough love" session, during which party elders will urge Corbett to rearrange key aides in his front office, some of whom are confidants from his days as attorney general with little political experience.

Contact Inquirer staff writer Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934 or, or follow on Twitter @AngelasInk.