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by Abigail Van Buren

Candidates of Conviction Should Vote for Themselves

DEAR READERS: I recently printed a letter from a woman who was having a heated discussion with her husband about whether a person should vote for him (or her) self. I responded in part: "I'd be interested in hearing from those who have run for public office and how they cast their ballots." Yesterday, I printed letters from candidates who did NOT vote for themselves. Today we'll hear from some who DID:

DEAR ABBY: During a political campaign, a candidate spends a great deal of time and effort working to convince voters that he or she is the best person seeking that office. By election day, the winning candidate will earn the confidence of the electorate only if he first has the courage of his convictions. To vote for one's opponent would be, in a sense, a breach of faith with the candidate's constituents.

I have had the honor of representing part of Fairfax County in the Virginia House of Delegates for three terms. Every time I enter the voting booth and see my name listed as a candidate, I am humbled by the experience. However, I am confident in my ability to serve, and always vote accordingly. -- JAY O'BRIEN, R-FAIRFAX COUNTY

DEAR ABBY: Of course I voted for myself! How could I tell voters I'm their best choice and then vote for someone else? It wouldn't say much for my integrity. -- ALEX MUNTER, MEMBER, OTTAWA-CARLETON REGIONAL COUNCIL, ONTARIO, CANADA

DEAR ABBY: I have run for public office 10 times and have been fortunate to win each time. I would have trouble voting for my opponent when I really felt I was best suited for the position. You can sign me ... H.D.P., KANSAS

DEAR ABBY: The letter from the woman who believed candidates would not vote for themselves out of "humility and old-fashioned manners" struck me as humorous for two reasons: First, in evaluating the current political landscape, from all appearances it seems that humility and old-fashioned manners are nowhere to be found.

The second and more compelling reason comes from my experience in a November 1992 local election. Although I currently serve as vice mayor of my community, in that election I lost my initial bid for office by only one vote out of over 11,000 cast. I can only imagine how I might have felt if I had lost the election and NOT voted for myself!

Of course politicians vote for themselves, and why shouldn't they? If they are trying to convince the electorate that they are the best candidate, then they must believe it also. A vote is too precious to waste frivolously. I know. -- L. STEPHEN GIZZI, VICE MAYOR, BENICIA, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: In 1949, I ran for county supervisor in Sangamon County, Ill. I campaigned vigorously, calling on hundreds of voters, as I was aware that my opponent, a socially prominent lady of wealth, had held the office for many years and would be hard to beat.

On election day, my common Midwestern horse sense overcame my chivalry, and I voted for myself.

Next morning the Springfield newspapers carried the startling news that I had won by a margin of a single vote -- 6,334 to her 6,333. -- BOB GUYMON, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

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