Begich officially declares run for Senate

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich formally declared his candidacy today for the U.S. Senate seat held by Ted Stevens since 1968.

Begich, 46, has been mayor of Alaska's largest city since 2003.

A Democrat, Begich formally announced his candidacy at noon at the Mountain View Community Center. At 5 p.m., he'll make a similar announcement in Fairbanks at the J.P. Jones Community Development Center, according to a press release sent by his campaign.

Begich has spent the last two months gauging statewide support. "That effort has led him ... to officially enter the race," the press release said.

Stevens, an 84-year-old and the longest-serving Republican in U.S. Senate history, was appointed to his Senate seat in 1968 and has easily won re-election seven times since.

But the upcoming election could be his toughest. Stevens is under federal investigation - but has not been charged - as part of a broad corruption inquiry by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice. Investigators are looking at his connections with now-defunct oil services company Veco, including Veco's role in remodeling Stevens' home in Girdwood.

Begich formed an exploratory committee in late February and has raised $267,090 in campaign funds since then, according to federal campaign filing reports.

Stevens boasts a $1.3 million campaign account and has raised almost $600,000 in the first three months of the year.

Begich will face Ray Metcalfe, a former Republican, Rocky Caldero and Frank Vandersaar in the Democratic primary. David Cuddy and Jerry Heikes have filed to take on Stevens in the Republican primary.

Deadline for filing for the U.S. Senate is June 1.

Anchorage Daily News