Alan Keyes (search) said he would like to end the system under which the people elect U.S. senators and return to pre-1913 practice in which senators were chosen by state legislatures.
The Republican Senate candidate in Illinois, asked about past comments on the election process, said Friday the constitutional amendment that provided for popular election of senators upset the balance between the people and the states.
"The balance is utterly destroyed when the senators are directly elected because the state government as such no longer plays any role in the deliberations at the federal level," Keyes said at a taping of WBBM Newsradio's "At Issue" program.
He said it was one of the reasons "there has been a steady deleterious erosion of the sovereign role of the states."
Keyes' Democratic rival, state Sen. Barack Obama (search) of Chicago, issued a statement saying he supports popular election of U.S. senators.
"I certainly trust the people of Illinois to choose who they want to represent them in the U.S. Senate," he said. "That is the very basis of our democracy."
Keyes said he did not consider repealing the 17th Amendment (search) a high priority.
"But if I ever see an opportunity in politics to promote it, I will," he said.