Former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes says he is considering a challenge to rising Democrat star Barack Obama in the Illinois U.S. Senate race.
Keyes, who also ran for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, told Illinois Republicans he is “open to the idea,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, a member of the panel seeking a candidate to run against Obama, said he spoke to Keyes several times yesterday but received no commitment.
”It would be a classic race of conservative vs. liberal,” Syverson told the Chicago paper. ”It would put this race on the map in this country — just for excitement.”
Obama, an Illinois state senator, gave a stirring speech at the Democratic convention that raised his stock with party members who see him as a future presidential candidate.
The Republican State Central Committee is interviewing potential candidates today, but Keyes was unable to fly to Chicago from his home in Maryland.
”But he certainly has an interest, and he said if the group is interested in meeting with him and speaking with him about his views that he would be happy to come out and meet [later],” said Syverson.
”He said that he was open to the idea. And he felt that Obama didn’t really represent the views of the people of Illinois. So I think he was really just in the exploration stage.”
The Illinois GOP’s first choice was Jack Ryan, who dropped out last month amid allegations he took his wife to sex clubs.
Keyes, 54, has never been elected to public office. He was ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1983-85; assistant secretary of state for international organizations, 1985-88; president of Citizens Against Waste, 1989-91; host of a syndicated radio show in the 1990s and a television show on MSNBC in 2002. He ran for the U.S. Senate from Maryland in 1988 and 1992 and for president in 1996 and 2000.
To run in the Illinois race, he would have to become a resident of the state by Nov. 2, the date of the election.
Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant father and a Kansan, was heralded by media during the convention as a centrist, but he has been given perfect 100 scores by liberal groups such as the Planned Parenthood Council, the Illinois Environmental Council, the National Association of Social Workers and Citizen Action Illinois.
He denounced the war in Iraq, saying, “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”
Obama received an F grade from the National Rifle Association and a “zero” from the Federation for Right to Life, a pro-life group.
In the Illinois legislature, Obama sponsored a bill to document racial profiling, requiring police officers to record the race, age and gender of anyone they stop. He also has sponsorred legislation for universal health care.