There are many myths in southern culture. One of the latest is the myth of the modern day, “conservative” Mississippi Democrat.

Currently, Senator Roger Wicker (R) and Greg Davis are locked into real battles with former Governor Ronnie Musgrove (D) and Rep. Travis Childers (D), respectively, for federal contests.

Let’s start this conversation with two basic facts. First, Mississippi is overwhelmingly conservative. That’s a given. To even have a prayer (pardon the pun), a Democrat for statewide office must be conservative on God, guns and abortion. That’s just a fact. A “true progressive” has zero chance in Mississippi (thank goodness). However, judging by the money coming in from the DSCC and the DCCC, which are by and large funded by “progressive” interests, Musgrove and Childers don’t have any problem taking money from people who they say they don’t agree with.

The second immutable fact is that THE MOST IMPORTANT vote a legislator ever makes is for the leadership of the body. We saw that here in Mississippi in early 2008 in a hotly contested race for Speaker of the House. Leadership sets the agenda for the body during the term of that legislative session, and the agenda of the body is largely a reflection of the people elected to leadership.

Ronnie Musgrove and Travis Childers have a challenge akin to shooting a bullet through a rolling doughnut. They have to drag the traditional “Democrat” base while at the same time convincing enough self-styled “conservatives” that they are conservative enough on the issues that they care about the most. Both Musgrove and Childers desperately try to limit the definition of conservatism to being “pro-life and pro-gun”. True conservatives know that conservatism is much deeper than that. It involves a strong military, the spread of freedom, reducing taxes and regulation on small business and appointing strict constructionist judges to the federal bench and Supreme Court.

Here’s the point – calling yourself a conservative and supporting Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid is an absolute impossibility. You can be a conservative. You can support Obama, Pelosi & Reid. You cannot do both.

If you as a candidate say that pro-life and pro-2nd amendment issues are the most important for you, and then you turn around and support the aforementioned, you have an unresolvable conflict. If you don’t believe me, let’s look at what the key organizations themselves think.

NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL rates Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with a 100 rating. That’s the best you can get in being pro-choice. Roger Wicker and John McCain are rated at a 0. But that’s just one side of the debate. Let’s look at the other.

National Right to Life
Right to Life rates Obama and Pelosi with a 0 and Reid with a 50. RTL ranked Wicker with a 100 and McCain with a 75.

NRA
The National Rifle Association gave Nancy Pelosi an “F” rating. Reid has carried a B rating with NRA. Obama in the Illinois State House and the US Senate has always been rated an F.

Ronnie Mugrove is desperately trying to define conservatism this way. Just look at his most recent campaign ad.

Again, a legislator can hide an agenda by making individual issue or procedural votes. However, the true test of one’s legislative beliefs is picking legislative body leaders that share the goals that the candidate says they hold most dear. Being “pro-gun and pro-life” has now become wedge issues for Democrats. Don’t let the candidates fool you. It does matter who they support and not just what they say they support. The Mississippi Press establishment has given Musgrove and Childers a pass on these issues because they are either scared or unwilling to connect these important dots for fear of what they will be accused of by their friends.

Wicker and Davis have a pretty easy path to fight this. Wicker has done so far a better job than Davis, but both need substantial improvement in this department. They must define conservatism on their terms and not allow their opponents to redefine it. If I were advising either candidate, I would have them buy and ad with their own money, look straight into the camera and say the following.

My opponent is desperately trying to convince you that he’s a conservative. He knows that Mississippians are conservative and expect our conservative values to be represented in Washington. While he claims to be “pro-life and pro-gun”, you and I know that’s not all there is to being a conservative. He also has openly supported Barack Obama and will vote for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who are most assuredly not conservative and don’t have Mississippians interests at heart. Conservatives vote to confirm judges like John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Conservatives vote to lower taxes and not raise them as his party plans on doing in January. Conservatives believe in spreading freedom and a strong national defense. Conservatives believe in removing government barriers from small business. Though my opponent says he believes some of those things, he has chosen to support leadership that supports none of them, and that will tell you where he really stands.

Throw a million dollars behind that message, and both races go slam dunk Republican.

Remember Mississippi, what you vote for matters. Who you vote for matters more. What they vote for matters. Who they vote for matters the most.

As continued disclosure, I have made reportable personal contributions to both Roger Wicker and Greg Davis. Deal with it.