As the Alabama and Mississippi primaries approach, it is interesting to note that both Gov. Phil Bryant from Mississippi and former Alabama governor Bob Riley have endorsed Mitt Romney.

There is little chance that Romney will win either state. Neither governor is identified as a moderate in the Republican party or as a politician who would support faux conservatives. So what is going on?

Here's a suggestion: State and local party leaders, who need to recruit in-state candidates who will, in many cases, share the ballot with the GOP presidential candidate, fear Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

In 2012, the derisive word "establishment" is applied often to anyone who has actually won an election. Our presidential campaigns consider it important to be perceived as anti-establishment. Well, winning an election shouldn't put your political judgment or your commitment to Republican principles in doubt. And holding elected office shouldn't label you as part of the out-of-touch establishment. In fact, having been selected by real voters suggests the opposite.

Yet, as solid conservatives, Riley and Bryant know what can win and what can lose. They are not part of a smug elite that doesn't have a good feel for where their voters are.

The fact that GOP elected officials think Romney is the best candidate to lead our ticket says a lot about Santorum and Gingrich.