From The Other McCain:
When Florida defied Republican National Committee rules to move the state’s 2012 presidential primary from an RNC-approved March date to Jan. 31, conservatives immediately suspected that state party insiders had orchestrated the move to help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney thwart the momentum of Tea Party-backed candidate Herman Cain. Some Florida activists focused their suspicion on moderates in state party leadership – allies of Senate candidate George LeMieux and of former Gov. Charlie Crist — as orchestrating the change in the primary date. The move was seen as helping the centrist Romney, whose superior fund-raising resources would enable him to score an early knockout in the Sunshine State before Cain could fully leverage the boost he got from an upset victory in a Sept. 24 Florida GOP straw poll.
I disagree a bit about this being just about blocking Cain. This was also to freeze out Palin. She was looking to be the last one in, but an abbreviated campaign period impacts her.
Also, by moving the Florida primary up, by RNC rules it loses half of its delegates. I am not sure if it is still winner-take-all. In either case, the net effect is that Florida GOP voters will have less impact on the selection of the GOP nominee. But by doing this the Florida GOP insiders have a major role in selecting the next GOP nominee. This is what I call selling out.
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.”
In a March 2010 column for National Review, Conda defended the so-called “RomneyCare” Massachusetts health insurance program. A former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Conda was originally an ally of Crist, as the St. Petersburg Times noted when Conda was picked as Rubio’s chief of chief in January 2011:
Like many Republicans, Conda once thought Charlie Crist would be the next senator but later distanced himself from the former Florida governor, saying he lacked conservative credentials.
Conda has worked as a lobbyist and analyst for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and founded the Washington office of Navigators, a lobbying/consulting firm where another top Rubio adviser, Todd Harris, also worked.
The firm’s clients included GlaxoSmithKline, At&T, Visa andCitigroup, which got $45 billion under the bank bailout.
Conda sounds like a typical opportunistic political staffer to me, someone who knows which side his bread is buttered. Watch your back, Marco.
Some have speculated that, by delivering Florida for Romney, Conda would not only help Romney lock up the 2012 presidential nomination, but also secure the 2012 vice-presidential pick for Rubio.
Reports that Rubio — or at least Rubio’s top aides – are working behind the scenes for Romney, who is seen as representing the RINO (“Republican In Name Only”) moderate wing of the party, will be a bitter disappointment for conservatives who supported Rubio’s insurgent campaign last year.
I hope the Tea Party is taking note and making lists. Rubio is their darling for defeating Crist, but it turns out that he was never really into them.