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Illinois Republicans Pick Alan Keyes for U.S. Senate

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Alan Keyes

By AP/KWMU

Chicago, Ill. – Illinois Republicans Wednesday night asked a two time candidate for President - who doesn't even live in Illinois - to be their new candidate for U.S. Senate.

Alan Keyes lives in Maryland, but says he'll decide Sunday whether to move so he can run.

Party officials admit they have no backup plan if Keyes says no. They've been without a replacement for Jack Ryan for six weeks.

They've also had to watch the other man in the race, Barack Obama, rise to national prominence with his recent speech at the Democratic Convention.

Members of the GOP committee that invited Keyes to be their replacement Senate candidate say they wanted someone with broad appeal. Party chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka says they look forward to welcoming Keyes to Illinois.

Keyes' outsider status was an issue to some, but he had the support of powerful committee member state Senator Dave Syverson of Rockford.

If Keyes runs against Obama, it would be the first U.S. Senate election feature two black candidates as the major party nominees. Illinois could produce only the fifth black U.S. senator in history.

But committee members add Keyes' race wasn't the important factor.

Keyes is widely known for his conservative views. He opposes abortion and gay rights. He wants to replace the income tax with a national sales tax and thinks parents should be able to send their children to schools that reflect their faith. He also calls affirmative action a "government patronage program."

Commentator John Ridley questioned the choice of Keyes during Thursday's Morning Edition and thinks it spells desperation for the state's Republican party. You can hear that commentary by clicking here.

Alan Keyes: At a Glance

Born: Aug. 7, 1950 Home: Gaithersburg, Md.

Family: Wife, Jocelyn Marcell; three children

Education: B.A., Harvard ('72); PhD., Harvard ('79)

EXPERIENCE:
- 1978-93: State Department Staff
- 1983-85: U.S. Amb. to the U.N. Econ. & Social Council
- 1987-89: Resident scholar, Am. Enterprise Institute
- 1988: Candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland
- 1988-92: President, Citizens Against Government Waste
- 1991: Interim President, Alabama A&M University
- 1992: Candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland
- 1994-99: Radio host, "The Alan Keyes Show"
- 1996: Candidate for U.S. President
- 2000: Candidate for U.S. President

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