Alan L. Keyes may be the new interim president of Alabama A&M University, but he wants to make it clear he is still a Marylander with a political future here.
"I still live in Maryland," Keyes said yesterday from the college in Normal, Ala. "What I'm doing is helping out here."
Keyes, 40, a conservative Republican, was the GOP candidate for U.S. senator in 1988 and has been mentioned as a likely challenger in 1992 against incumbent Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski. Keyes got about 40 percent of the vote against Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes in 1988.
"There are a lot of people [in Maryland] who would love to breathe a sigh of relief if I left, but they can't," Keyes said.
Keyes said he plans to serve as interim president for six to nine months and then return to his home in Darnestown in Montgomery County. He said he would commute regularly between Maryland and Alabama.
Keyes was named interim president of Alabama A&M Friday by Gov. Guy Hunt -- a conservative Republican -- and the university's board of trustees. He succeeds Carl Harris Marbury, who resigned abruptly Friday after a series of controversies including a charge of sexual harassment.
The 116-year-old historically black university will soon begin looking for a permanent president, university spokeswoman Lisa Saunders said.
Keyes served in the Reagan State Department as an envoy to the United Nations between 1985 and 1987. He is now president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a national group founded in 1984. He said he will remain that position while serving in Alabama.
Keyes said he is thinking "carefully" about a Senate race next year.
"There's kind of a Republican resurgence going on and I'd like to make a positive contribution to it," he said.
Alabama A&M, near Huntsville, has about 4,800 undergraduate and graduate students.