Latest Illinois scenario: Obama vs. Keyes?

By Geraldine Sealey
Published August 3, 2004 2:34PM (EDT)

Republicans in Illlinois are still looking for an opponent for Barack Obama, an even more formidable candidate since he gave arguably the most impressive speech of the week, the keynote, during the Democratic convention in Boston. Illinois GOP officials meet today in Chicago to screen candidates. They don't have a good track record on this score, having gone from sex scandal plagued Jack Ryan to the reluctant Mike Ditka and down a slate of lesser known possibilities, none of whom panned out. But if they do come up with someone today, the candidate will soon after meet with reporters and take a whirlwind tour of the state.

If the choice is Alan Keyes, as the Sun-Times reports it just may be, he'll need a tour of the state, because he lives in Maryland. Keyes has until Election Day, Nov. 2, to move to Ilinois to be eligible for the Senate.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, an Illinois Republican, said it's fine that Keyes doesn't live in Illinois; Keyes could be the state's own Hillary Clinton, a New York Senator transplant. "It's not necessarily where you live as much as who you represent and the views you represent," Syverson said. "[Keyes] believes that there is a void in Illinois and that Obama certainly does not represent Illinois. And he believes that he would be, if he were to run, much more representative of Illinois."

Not all members of the GOP state central committee are sold on Keyes, the Sun-Times reports, and from the sound of it, one seems ready to just give up the candidate search and vote for Obama. "[Keyes] can talk -- that I know," said Barbara Peterson, a state central committeewoman from Will County. "I've been enthralled by his speeches, but I liked Obama's speech, too. So what does that say for me? Maybe I just like a good speech. I don't know at this point. Why would he want to do it?" Good question.

Obama's first reaction to the Keyes possibility: "Does he live in Illinois? ... The Republicans need to just go ahead and make up their minds and when they do, we'll be happy to debate whoever they put in."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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