Illinois Republicans chose Alan Keyes as their candidate today to run against heavily favored Barack Obama, the up-and-coming Democratic Party star.
Republicans were forced to choose a new candidate when their nominee, Jack Ryan, dropped his Senate campaign in late June over embarrassing allegations about his sex life.
Party leaders first tried unsuccessfully to persuade former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka to take the political plunge.
Keyes, a conservative commentator, ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate twice from his home state of Maryland and sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000. He has never lived in Illinois but under state law would only have to take up residence by election day, Nov. 2.
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.
Obama, the son of a Kenyan mmigrant 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 sponsored legislation for universal health care.