When a key player exits the Ontario Premier's office at the end of this week, the move will solidify a transition from the campaign team that put Kathleen Wynne in power to the one that will try to keep her there.
It also leaves lingering questions about the dynamics that caused the staffer to move on.
Tom Allison, who masterminded Ms. Wynne's leadership campaign, is the biggest name in a mini-shuffle of her staff over the last month. Milton Chan, another major operative on the leadership bid before becoming the Premier's director of strategy, has moved to the office of Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer as chief of staff. Deputy communications director Siri Agrell, a staffer for Ms. Wynne since her time as Municipal Affairs Minister, left to become vice-president of public relations firm Pilot PMR.
Pierre Cyr, chief of staff to Immigration Minister Michael Coteau, will join the office as director of operations.
Campaign director Pat Sorbara, whose job had overlapped somewhat with Mr. Allison's, is now the campaign team's clear organizational guru, working with managing co-chair David Herle.
Joining them is a campaign steering committee, which includes such big names as Peter Donolo, a government source said. A former chief of staff to Michael Ignatieff, Mr. Donolo worked closely with Ms. Sorbara on the federal party's 2011 effort. Most recently, he was an executive with the 2015 Pan Am Games. Another seasoned veteran on the committee is Vince Borg, an ex-mining executive, communications consultant and adviser to former premier David Peterson.
With a possible spring election just months away, the team may very soon face its make-or-break test: win the Premier her first full mandate, or watch the Liberals' decade-long rule come to an end.
While Mr. Allison is leaving for another important job – managing John Tory's nascent Toronto mayoral bid – Liberal insiders say he had come to feel marginalized after Ms. Sorbara was brought in late last summer.
Ms. Sorbara, described as a hard-charging task master, was given the job of whipping the party's organization into shape, sources said, and her personality contrasted with Mr. Allison's.
The Premier's chief of staff, Tom Teahen, emphatically denies Mr. Allison was marginalized within the campaign team. He says Mr. Allison left purely to pursue other opportunities and would have worked side-by-side with Ms. Sorbara had he stayed.
"Tom was doing a great job. Tom has made a great contribution to the team and would continue to do so were he not leaving," Mr. Teahen said in an interview. "The expectation was they both could do the job."
Reports of difficulties between Mr. Allison and Ms. Sorbara are completely false, he says.
"That's just absolutely not the case," he said. "It's just not true."
Mr. Chan's move came about because Mr. Zimmer had an opening for a chief of staff and it was a good promotion, Mr. Teahen said.
In an email, Ms. Agrell suggested the timing of her departure, two weeks before Mr. Allison's, was coincidental. Pilot offered her the executive job late last year, but she stayed with Ms. Wynne several extra weeks to allow time for the office to adjust, she wrote.
Ms. Wynne's campaign team represents a turnover from the crew that won the last three elections for the Grits. Those efforts were headed by Don Guy who, along with senior Dalton McGuinty staffer Dave Gene, are now working for former TTC chair Karen Stintz as she runs for Toronto mayor.
With the polls uncertain – some show Ms. Wynne holding a modest lead, others a three-way race with the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats – and the Liberals still smarting from their losses in two by-elections earlier this month, the result of the general election is anyone's guess.
Adrian Morrow is The Globe's Ontario legislature reporter. Adam Radwanski, The Globe's Ontario politics columnist, also contributed.