Alan L. Keyes, former diplomat, college president and U.S. Senate candidate, said last night that he is running again for the Senate because Barbara A. Mikulski has lost touch with Maryland and is part of a spendthrift Congress fueling the recession.
"Before this campaign is over, the people of Maryland will discover she is not an alternative. She is not even relevant to the discussion," the Republican told 250 cheering supporters as he officially launched his campaign at the Towson American Legion Post 22.
Mr. Keyes, 41, a former deputy ambassador to the United Nations who now heads a non-profit group monitoring government spending,favors elimination of the capital gains tax, opposes abortion and advocates "increasing tax cuts for working people."
He added that the public's dissatisfaction with Congress would only change when they replaced senators like Ms. Mikulski, a Democrat.
"Come home, Barbara Mikulski," he said during his 30-minute speech. "Come back to the people that you have betrayed."
In 1988, Mr. Keyes lost the Maryland Senate race to Democratic incumbent Paul S. Sarbanes by a wide margin, garnering only 38 percent of the vote.
Mr. Keyes said last night that the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings clinched his decision to run again. The hearings, he said, turned people off to the political process and damaged the political system.
"We can undo that damage in one election by turning out the people who have no respect for our institutions, turning out the people who have no respect for us," he said.
In his speech, Mr. Keyes preached the gospel of self-reliance, saying that most of Washington had become too interested in encouraging reliance on federal handouts, contributing to the deficit.
"There is one thing that moves this country forward. That is the faith we place in our people, the faith we place in ourselves," he said.
A huge American flag served as Mr. Keyes' backdrop, and his speech was preceded by a five-minute video that highlighted his studies at Harvard, his State Department service and his "courageous" 1988 Senate campaign. When the video ended, he entered the hall to the theme from "Rocky."
Mr. Keyes heads Citizens Against Government Waste, which studies government spending and organizes grass-roots efforts to curb it.
Last February, he also began a brief stint as interim president of Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, where he sparked controversy. His appointment of an athletic director and physics department chairman prompted a faculty member's lawsuit alleging the appointments violated school policy that such openings be advertised. The hirings also prompted a faculty senate resolution in protest, according to the Huntsville Times.
But Mr. Keyes, who had been appointed by a Republican governor, said that his work was targeted by groups with ambitions that went beyond what was best for the college.