It's Not Personal. It's Politics.

Last Saturday, I took a granola bar and a travel mug of coffee to a church fellowship hall to help with a bulk mailing for our Republican candidate for Congress. The race, between a conservative small business owner and a two-term Blue Dog Democrat, has just recently been moved from Safe Democrat to Tossup. I had promised myself that this was the year I'd actually practice what I preach and work to help elect conservatives.

The other eleven volunteers and I were seated at three round tables stacked with postcards, address labels, and stamps. At my table was a retired couple (I'll call them Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and a lady (I'll call her Ms. Brown) who are active in the local Republican party. We quickly got our label/stamp rhythm going and commenced talking.

We discovered we'd all been at the area Tea Parties in 2009. We'd also all been at the debate hosted by a local Tea Party for the six candidates who ran in our Republican congressional primary. The conversation turned to our anger with our current Democrat representative and his vote for Cap and Trade. We all agreed he was one of Nancy Pelosi's lapdogs and that it was time for him to go. I mentioned that I had received an e-mail from the Republican headquarters inviting one and all to come watch a televised debate between the congressional candidates scheduled for later in the week.

"It sounds like fun," I said. "Any of you thinking of going?"

"I don't think we can," replied Mrs. Smith. "You see, after the primary, we switched from Republican to Independent."

Ms. Brown assured her that she was positive it wouldn't be a problem. I was curious, so I asked her why she had changed affiliation.

"Because the guy who won the Republican primary never should have won," she explained. "He only won by sixty votes, and there should have been a recount." Then, in a declaration that caused Ms. Brown's and my jaws to drop open, she announced, "I'm not sure I'm voting Republican for Congress this year."

Shaking my head, positive I hadn't heard her correctly, I blurted out, "You mean you're sitting here sticking a thousand address labels on postcards for a candidate you might not even vote for?"

Mrs. Smith explained that she hadn't definitely decided if she was voting for the Republican or not. Apparently she was a huge supporter of the runner-up in the primary and felt the winner wasn't nearly as qualified. She repeated her assertion that there should have been a recount.

Now, our congressional candidate is no RINO. He is a solid conservative with excellent small business credentials. He just wasn't Mr. and Mrs. Smith's favorite.

I reminded Mrs. Smith that the primary was months ago. I granted that perhaps there should have been a recount. But there wasn't, so now was the time to focus on the goal of defeating the Democrats.

Ms. Brown pointed out that in a short two years from now, the Smiths can work like the dickens for their favorite candidate in the next primary. She reminded us that it's much easier to unseat a one-term Republican in a primary than a three-term Democrat in a general election.

Mrs. Smith acknowledged that our arguments were sound and repeated that she hadn't yet decided what she was going to do. The problem, she sighed, was that her candidate was so much better.

I had heard this mindset before, of course. On political websites are lots of posts from conservatives who refuse to vote for their local Republican candidate, or even to vote at all, when the primary winner is not their original choice. These voters frequently couch their decision in terms of keeping their self-respect, as if voting for another man or woman is akin to adultery.

Don't get me wrong: I am totally monogamous toward my chosen candidate -- in the primary. This year, my personal favorite for Congress, however, came in third. Game over. Like the class act I knew he was, my candidate immediately endorsed the winner, and I transferred my support.

Perhaps about now some of you are thinking that it's easy for me to talk of switching allegiance to another candidate when both candidates are conservative. That's fair. If our primary winner had turned out to be pro-choice, I would not be volunteering for his campaign. And pulling the lever for that candidate would require quite a bit of hard thinking. 

But this is precisely the argument I was trying to make to Mrs. Smith. In our district, we have the opportunity to replace a Blue Dog Democrat with a conservative Republican. My district, filled with conservative voters, has no business sending a Democrat, Blue Dog or not, to the House of Representatives, where he will support President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. Other districts don't have that luxury. In other states, conservative Republicans are outnumbered by RINOs, who are vastly outnumbered by Democrats. Conservatives in many of those liberal districts work day and night to nominate conservative candidates in the primary. Occasionally there are success stories, like the triumph of Christine O'Donnell over very liberal Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary. In other cases, the conservatives are faced with the dilemma of voting for a RINO who will support the Republican leadership on most issues, voting for a third party, or not voting at all.

It would be easy for me, with my pro-life, pro-Constitution, fiscally responsible candidate to sit here and lecture the conservatives in, say, Illinois on how  to vote. I do not belittle the difficult decision those conservatives have to make. On the other hand, the behavior of conservatives like the Smiths, who allow hurt feelings to get in the way of replacing a Democrat with a conservative Republican, is baffling.

The year 2010 is the first step towards not only defeating the Democrats, but increasing the number of conservatives in Congress. To achieve this, we conservative voters need to realize that there's no room for leftover grievances from the primary. To paraphrase The Godfather: This isn't personal. It's politics.

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.
Last Saturday, I took a granola bar and a travel mug of coffee to a church fellowship hall to help with a bulk mailing for our Republican candidate for Congress. The race, between a conservative small business owner and a two-term Blue Dog Democrat, has just recently been moved from Safe Democrat to Tossup. I had promised myself that this was the year I'd actually practice what I preach and work to help elect conservatives.

The other eleven volunteers and I were seated at three round tables stacked with postcards, address labels, and stamps. At my table was a retired couple (I'll call them Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and a lady (I'll call her Ms. Brown) who are active in the local Republican party. We quickly got our label/stamp rhythm going and commenced talking.

We discovered we'd all been at the area Tea Parties in 2009. We'd also all been at the debate hosted by a local Tea Party for the six candidates who ran in our Republican congressional primary. The conversation turned to our anger with our current Democrat representative and his vote for Cap and Trade. We all agreed he was one of Nancy Pelosi's lapdogs and that it was time for him to go. I mentioned that I had received an e-mail from the Republican headquarters inviting one and all to come watch a televised debate between the congressional candidates scheduled for later in the week.

"It sounds like fun," I said. "Any of you thinking of going?"

"I don't think we can," replied Mrs. Smith. "You see, after the primary, we switched from Republican to Independent."

Ms. Brown assured her that she was positive it wouldn't be a problem. I was curious, so I asked her why she had changed affiliation.

"Because the guy who won the Republican primary never should have won," she explained. "He only won by sixty votes, and there should have been a recount." Then, in a declaration that caused Ms. Brown's and my jaws to drop open, she announced, "I'm not sure I'm voting Republican for Congress this year."

Shaking my head, positive I hadn't heard her correctly, I blurted out, "You mean you're sitting here sticking a thousand address labels on postcards for a candidate you might not even vote for?"

Mrs. Smith explained that she hadn't definitely decided if she was voting for the Republican or not. Apparently she was a huge supporter of the runner-up in the primary and felt the winner wasn't nearly as qualified. She repeated her assertion that there should have been a recount.

Now, our congressional candidate is no RINO. He is a solid conservative with excellent small business credentials. He just wasn't Mr. and Mrs. Smith's favorite.

I reminded Mrs. Smith that the primary was months ago. I granted that perhaps there should have been a recount. But there wasn't, so now was the time to focus on the goal of defeating the Democrats.

Ms. Brown pointed out that in a short two years from now, the Smiths can work like the dickens for their favorite candidate in the next primary. She reminded us that it's much easier to unseat a one-term Republican in a primary than a three-term Democrat in a general election.

Mrs. Smith acknowledged that our arguments were sound and repeated that she hadn't yet decided what she was going to do. The problem, she sighed, was that her candidate was so much better.

I had heard this mindset before, of course. On political websites are lots of posts from conservatives who refuse to vote for their local Republican candidate, or even to vote at all, when the primary winner is not their original choice. These voters frequently couch their decision in terms of keeping their self-respect, as if voting for another man or woman is akin to adultery.

Don't get me wrong: I am totally monogamous toward my chosen candidate -- in the primary. This year, my personal favorite for Congress, however, came in third. Game over. Like the class act I knew he was, my candidate immediately endorsed the winner, and I transferred my support.

Perhaps about now some of you are thinking that it's easy for me to talk of switching allegiance to another candidate when both candidates are conservative. That's fair. If our primary winner had turned out to be pro-choice, I would not be volunteering for his campaign. And pulling the lever for that candidate would require quite a bit of hard thinking. 

But this is precisely the argument I was trying to make to Mrs. Smith. In our district, we have the opportunity to replace a Blue Dog Democrat with a conservative Republican. My district, filled with conservative voters, has no business sending a Democrat, Blue Dog or not, to the House of Representatives, where he will support President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. Other districts don't have that luxury. In other states, conservative Republicans are outnumbered by RINOs, who are vastly outnumbered by Democrats. Conservatives in many of those liberal districts work day and night to nominate conservative candidates in the primary. Occasionally there are success stories, like the triumph of Christine O'Donnell over very liberal Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary. In other cases, the conservatives are faced with the dilemma of voting for a RINO who will support the Republican leadership on most issues, voting for a third party, or not voting at all.

It would be easy for me, with my pro-life, pro-Constitution, fiscally responsible candidate to sit here and lecture the conservatives in, say, Illinois on how  to vote. I do not belittle the difficult decision those conservatives have to make. On the other hand, the behavior of conservatives like the Smiths, who allow hurt feelings to get in the way of replacing a Democrat with a conservative Republican, is baffling.

The year 2010 is the first step towards not only defeating the Democrats, but increasing the number of conservatives in Congress. To achieve this, we conservative voters need to realize that there's no room for leftover grievances from the primary. To paraphrase The Godfather: This isn't personal. It's politics.

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.