I feel like a big dumb dummy for not knowing the Santorum surrogate was based on a real guy, but Kent should feel even dumber for missing that the very same link was posted at the top of this very page (he probably got pagebreak'd, happens to the best of us)
However, I don't know exactly how the timeline works out, but I don't know if that Chris Mathews incident happened before this episode was written, though maybe it directly inspired it. In any case, it seems clear now that this character was based on this real guy. However, it's worth noting Robert Traynham was not a formal campaign adviser appointed by the Santorum campaign, just a former employee.
Good to know I can erase my one issue with this episode, though. Definitely the best on yet. Hopefully they can keep it up through the end of the season.