CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (search) formally announced Wednesday that he will seek a record ninth term in the Senate.
Using the Capitol Rotunda as a stage, the 87-year-old Democrat told the crowd he was "ready to go. Another round."
"I have the best job in America because I represent you, the people of West Virginia. And I want to keep this job," Bird told supporters.
Byrd has 47 years in the Senate, and will become the longest-serving member in its history in June. He previously served six years in the U.S. House, and before that terms in both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature.
At least four Republicans have filed or announced plans to run for Byrd's seat in 2006. But national GOP officials are pinning their hopes on Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (search), R-W.Va., challenging Byrd.
Capito has yet to announce her plans.
Supports say Byrd showed the power of his stature last month when he helped derail a Pentagon proposal to strip the 130th Air National Guard Airlift Wing of its eight cargo planes.
Polling by Survey USA suggests an upswing in Byrd's stature with West Virginians, particularly when compared to the president. Byrd's approval rating increased from 56 percent in May to 65 percent Aug. 15 -- before the 130th was spared the loss of its planes. Bush's approval rating, meanwhile, has remained around 44 percent, with more than half of those surveyed disapproving of his performance.
He also has seen his profile rise beyond the state's borders as he has clashed with the Bush administration over Iraq and other topics.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Byrd said he was ready for another campaign.
"Show me another 87-year-old man who's got the energy that I've got, and I'll eat your hat," Byrd told the AP.