Downstate Democratic operative Rodney Capel is returning to the public payroll – this time as a staffer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, sources inside and out of the administration confirm.

Mike McKeon, who lured Capel away from NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office to his PR/consulting firm, Mercury Public Affairs, confirmed the move. Capel will be doing intergovernmental work, which is pretty much what he did for Quinn.

This is a loss for Mercury, which started as a GOP-dominated firm and then broadened its horizons by bringing on a number of Democrats (a move undertaken by a number of firms back when Eliot Spitzer was about to replace George Pataki in Albany).

But McKeon insisted he’s not upset, explaining: “This is good for the governor, and what’s good for the governor is good by us.”

Keep in mind that McKeon headed up the Republicans for Cuomo effort during the 2010 campaign, so he already has ties to the second floor.

Capel joined Mercury, which was started by a number of former Pataki administration staffers, in November 2008.

Capel started working for Quinn’s in 2006 and was responsible for overseeing the Council’s member services division and its state and federal legislative offices. He replaced Kevin Wardally, who departed to join the lobbying firm of former Dinkins administration Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch.

Capel’s father, Jim, has served as Rangel’s chief of staff for decades. The younger Capel worked for the congressman on the Hill. He also worked on H. Carl McCall’s 1994 state comptroller bid and the last three Democratic presidential bids before Obama/Biden.

UPDATE: It’s official. The Cuomo admin just sent out an e-mail formally announcing Capel’s hire. His title: NYC director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

“Rodney has a longstanding and impressive career in government, both on the local and national levels,” Cuomo said.

“His experience makes him particularly suited for this appointment. He will be a great addition to my administration as we work with elected officials from across the state towards a better New York.”