Did Marco Rubio's chief of staff help push the Florida primary earlier in order to benefit Mitt Romney?

The Other McCain is reporting that Cesar Conda, Marco Rubio’s senatorial chief of staff who worked for the Mitt Romney 2008 campaign, was a “major force” in pushing for Florida to move up its 2012 Presidential primary to January 31. An earlier primary would shorten the campaign schedule and thus help the better-funded campaigns, of which Romney’s is certainly the best-funded.

This is some serious egg on the face for Marco Rubio if this is true. Rubio was a RedState and Tea Party favorite in 2010, and Romney, well, isn’t. The especially pernicious part of this is if this was done to help Rubio’s chances at being Romney’s VP, as is being rumored.

Yet while the moderate Republican faction in Tallahassee was immediately blamed for the primary date-switch, only insiders knew that a key factor was a push from inside the staff of the Tea Party’s own 2010 hero, Sen. Marco Rubio. GOP sources in Washington and Florida say that Rubio’s senatorial chief of staff, Cesar Conda, has been a major force in persuading Florida Republicans to move their primary to January.

“Cesar used to be with Romney’s campaign,” one informed source explained to me in an interview today, adding: “Conda used his contacts to push the primary to the 31st because they want Romney in.”

Conda’s loyalty to Romney was highlighted in a Politico story by Scott Wong last week: “At least six past and current Rubio Senate aides, including chief of staff Cesar Conda and his deputy, Terry Sullivan, worked for Romney’s 2008 presidential bid, establishing a direct link and a line of communication between the front-runner for the 2012 GOP nomination and the front-runner in the Republican veepstakes. There’s also a trail of fundraisers, donors and consultants who have overlapping relationships with Rubio and Romney.”