Do you believe that conservatives can win general elections?Do you think that the GOP has the best chance since 1994 to make gains in the House and Senate this coming year?If you answered yes to both questions, let me ask you another one: why shouldn’t the GOP try to nominate viable conservatives in its primaries instead of just going with the candidate the conventional wisdom thinks can win up front?Look at Marco Rubio. He started the race at 8% and is now tied with the incumbent Governor of Florida for the GOP nomination.I keep hearing that we need to back X candidate because that candidate can win. Really? Isn’t that what the NRSC said about Crist?Why exactly must we support Jane Norton in Colorado instead of Ken Buck? I’m not saying I am or am not, but why must I? Lots of people think we must because the same guys in Washington who said Charlie Crist was our best hope in Florida say she is in Colorado.Why exactly must we support Mark Kirk in Illinois? Lots of people think we must because the same guys in Washington who said Charlie Crist was our best hope in Florida say he is in Illinois.When we examine those two races, we find that people are probably right about Mark Kirk. The race is only a month and a half a way, his challenger is in the single digits, like Rubio was nine months ago, but is not aggressively campaigning and has little chance of raising the needed money to win with only a month and a half to go. There is no sign of a unified conservative movement push for Hughes. So we go with Kirk unless something changes pretty immediately.In Colorado, that is not the case. Ken Buck has a very real shot and Norton is about to suffer some very serious high dollar blows about her support for suspending TABOR a while back. We need not go with the inside the beltway wisdom just because the beltway wisdom wants us to go with Norton. We should watch, study, observe, and see where things are heading before going with either Buck or Norton.That brings us to New Hampshire.“Everyone” says we should go with Kelly Ayotte.Why exactly?Kelly Ayotte has never run for office, was appointed Attorney General twice by Democratic Governor John Lynch, serving in his Democratic Administration from 2005 to 2009.Ayotte has acknowledged that as a Senator, she would have voted for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. (Politico ‘Scorecard’, 8/12/09)As Attorney General for Democratic governor John Lynch, Ayotte and her office willingly and gladly administered the Obama stimulus bill.Ayotte refused to acknowledge whether she voted for the Republican candidates for Governor in either 2006 or 2008. (New Hampshire Union Leader, GOP Senate Hopefuls Look to Cut Through the Noise, 11/15/09)Ayotte lobbied Governor Lynch to reject legislation expanding the ‘Castle Doctrine’, which justifies homeowners using deadly force to defend themselves against intruders. (Concord Monitor Capital Beat Column, 8/30/09)”[Ayotte] is still going to have to convince Republican voters of her loyalty because she has never been in a position where she’s been active in the party,” according to NH Political Consultant Mike Dennehy. (GOP Senate Hopefuls Look to Cut Through the Noise, 11/15/09)Ayotte has patently refused to say what kind of Senator she would be if she were elected.Ayotte’s office issued a legal opinion to enable Governor Lynch to steal $110 million in private medical malpractice insurance funds in what is now known as the “JUA Case” (see this Concord Monitor article) That theft has been challenged and the case is pending in the Supreme Court.Ayotte opposed an important market-based health care reform – allowing small businesses to pool resources to purchase insurance – in 2006; only now is she in favor of it after she announced her candidacy, acknowledging she had “changed her mind” (see this Concord Monitor article).So why must we support her? What makes her the best candidate?I’m not convinced. In fact, when I talk to reporters in New Hampshire, GOP activists in New Hampshire, and elected officials in New Hampshire, more and more of them are telling me that Ovide Lamontagne has a very real chance of winning the primary and, in this climate, has a very real chance of winning the general election too.It seems to me we should consider the difference between 20 years of a conservative record with Lamontagne vs. 4 months of rhetoric with Ayotte.Now, I’m not really upset if some of you disagree with me. But please tell me why we should line up behind Ayotte? The only people I know of who are trumpeting her loudly are the exact same people who told us we had to line up behind Charlie Crist.I’m not convinced. In fact, I am increasingly convinced we should go with Lamontagne. If this is a banner year for the GOP and we believe conservatives can win, let’s go with the real deal.