Keyes accuses his party of neglecting him 'Blatantly not true,' state chairman says

August 15, 1992|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan L. Keyes has accused his own party of neglecting his candidacy and doing little to broaden its base to include blacks -- charges that have embarrassed and angered GOP officials.

"We have a [campaign] going on in Maryland that is very important in terms of the Republican Party effort to build a broader base. This is not just window dressing," he said. "To neglect that opportunity raises very serious questions."

Members of his own party, however, said they were astonished that the 42-year-old black conservative would say such a thing.

"You don't bite the hand that feeds you," said Maryland Republican Party Chairman Joyce L. Terhes. She called Mr. Keyes' comments "absolutely, truly outrageous" and described herself as "devastated" by them.

"I'm embarrassed as chairman of the party that one of our candidates would say such a thing," she said. "You're talking about me, you're taking about all of us, and it is just blatantly not true."

Wendy Burnley, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Mr. Keyes' comments "very unfortunate and very untrue." She said he has been treated the same as, and in some cases better than, the 35 other Republican candidates for the Senate this year.

The accusations by Mr. Keyes, who will face first-term Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski in the Nov. 3 election, were first aired in yesterday's editions of the Washington Post, which described him as criticizing party officials as "racist." But Mr. Keyes insisted yesterday he never used that term, but merely described how his campaign has been treated and let the newspaper draw its own conclusion.

He said, however, that Republican Party officials should have done more for his campaign if they truly wanted to bring more blacks into the party.

Instead, he said, he has had to "fight and claw" to get a precious few minutes of speaking time in front of next week's Republican National Convention in Houston; has been ignored in efforts to get President Bush to campaign for him in Maryland; and has been denied the financial resources a challenger needs to unseat an incumbent.

In some cases, he claimed, national Republican officials have discouraged would-be contributors from giving to his campaign, although he declined to back up the charges by providing any names or other specifics. He said he did not want his accusations to become "personal."

Mr. Keyes is to introduce unsuccessful GOP presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan at the party convention Monday night, and also is one of 10 GOP candidates who have been given three minutes each to address the convention earlier in the day, said Sean Paige, a spokesman for Mr. Keyes.

Party officials said the Keyes campaign has not been neglected. Ms. Burnley said the National Republican Senatorial Committee is permitted under federal election laws to give each senatorial candidate up to $17,500 in cash plus additional funds based on a formula. In Maryland, Mr. Keyes is eligible for $404,246 in in-kind contributions, such as purchases of radio or television advertising time, on top of the $17,500 in cash.

But, she said, the committee long ago decided to withhold most funds from any of its candidates until late in the campaign when voters are focused on the election and it is clear which candidates have a realistic chance to win. Despite that, she said, Mr. Keyes was one of only 18 of this year's 36 GOP candidates who already has been given the $17,500 in cash.

"Alan Keyes was one of the races we wanted to help with some seed money," she said. She declined to speculate on whether his criticism of the party will hurt his chances of receiving additional donations, but Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, a national Republican committeewoman for Maryland, said it undoubtedly would.

Mrs. Bentley said she was particularly upset that Mr. Keyes believes there is some correlation between the fact that Mr. Bush has not appeared on Mr. Keyes' behalf in Maryland, yet has campaigned for the GOP senatorial candidate in Illinois, whose opponent is black.

Because Illinois is a bigger state and more pivotal to Mr. Bush's re-election chances than is Maryland, Mrs. Bentley said, Mr. Keyes' comparison was "ludicrous."

Mr. Keyes said he did not know whether his comments would damage his ability to raise additional funds or not, but said, "I don't really care. I'm going to speak my mind."

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