A local radio talk-show host said he will run for an open seat in Congress as a Democrat and plans to stay on the air through July, raising questions about equal time for other candidates.

Dave Ross (search), who also does humorous commentary for CBS Radio stations nationwide, made the announcement on KIRO-AM on Thursday after heavy recruitment from state party leaders.

"It was an evolution," said Ross, 52. "Fewer and fewer reasons to say no."

Ross calls himself a critic of the war in Iraq (search), a deficit hawk and a supporter of President Bush's effort to give federal funds to faith-based social programs.

Ross — who has become known for his deep voice, even temperament and humorous, self-deprecating style in his 17 years on KIRO — said he planned to keep his morning weekday show until he formally files for the 8th District House seat in July.

"It's not going to be just a campaign show. It's going to be 'The Dave Ross Show,'" he said. "There's been Republican Party radio on the air for a long, long time."

Ross' plan has some critics, including aides to former RealNetworks (search) executive Alex Alben, a political novice who until now was the Democratic front-runner.

"He can't do that. It's just fundamentally unfair," said Ben Vaught, Alben's campaign manager.

Both Alben's campaign and state Republican party chairman Chris Vance have asked KIRO for equal time. KIRO manager Ken Berry said he would consider the request but had no immediate plans to change the station's programming.

Under Federal Communications Commission (search) regulations, a radio station must offer equal time once an on-air employee becomes a "qualified candidate" by filing for office and being found qualified by election regulators.

The affluent 8th District, in the suburbs east of Seattle, has been represented by Republican Jennifer Dunn (search) since 1993. She is retiring.

GOP contenders include King County Sheriff David G. Reichert, former assistant U.S. attorney Diane Tebelius and state Sen. Luke Esser.

Ross was chosen by CBS in 1992 as substitute anchor for "The Osgood File" while Charles Osgood was on vacation. He is now heard on 244 CBS stations nationwide.