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Alaska Chessboard Becomes Clearer

Former State Representative Ethan Berkowitz today announced his plans to run against Alaska Congressman Don Young, the Republican who has represented the state in the House since 1973. Young has been associated with scandals currently roiling Alaska's Republican Party, and is widely considered to be thinking about retiring.

Despite his long history of bringing home the bacon for Alaska, Young won re-election last year with just 56% against an opponent who once ran for governor on the Green Party line. Berkowitz, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2006, wins high praise from national Democrats, who see the seat as a possible pickup.

The move also means another Democratic recruitment target will be free for Senate Democrats. With scandal surrounding Senator Ted Stevens, Democrats smell an open seat. The DSCC has long sought to recruit Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, seen as the most popular Democrat in the state, to run either against the weakened incumbent or for an open seat.

Begich has yet to make a decision on the Senate race. National Democrats are said to covet his entry into the race, and rumor had it he and Berkowitz were deciding between themselves which would enter the House race and which would go for Stevens' seat. If Begich enters the Senate race, the DSCC and the DCCC will have scored major recruiting coups.