Begich to officially enter race vs. Stevens

In a move that will make Alaska a battleground in the 2008 election, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) will make his candidacy for Senate official on Monday, his campaign said Sunday.

Begich, who currently has an exploratory committee, was widely expected to enter the race eventually. He will make stops in Anchorage and Fairbanks to launch his candidacy for the seat of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who is under federal investigation for his ties to the Veco Corp.

The mayor has led in some early polls, but Stevens, 84, is a revered longtime political figure to many in the state. He is currently the longest serving Republican in the Senate and is nearing four decades in the chamber. However, a federal raid of his home last summer has apparently put him in legal and political jeopardy.

The Anchorage mayor is the son of former Rep. Nick Begich (D-Alaska), who was never found after a 1972 plane crash with former House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-La.).

Begich is a second-term mayor who was easily reelected in 2006 with 56 percent of the vote.