Former Alexandria mayor Charles E. Beatley Jr., who said last week he would not run for Congress, said last night he has now decided to seek the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican 8th District Rep. Stan Parris.

"My mind might have sounded like I made it up before, but it was kind of tentative," Beatley said in a telephone interview after announcing his latest decision at the monthly meeting of the Alexandria Democratic Committee at T.C. Williams High School. "I did some more research. It wasn't exactly a reversal . . . I'm in the race to stay. There will be no changes."

Although no other Democratic candidate has formally announced for the June 10 primary, Clifford E. Snyder Jr. of Alexandria, who would be making his first bid for office in the 8th District, has said he would announce his Democratic campaign Thursday. The petition filing deadline to get on the ballot is Friday.

Beatley, a prominent figure in local politics for 15 years until he lost a bruising campaign for reelection last May to James P. Moran Jr., has been considered the Democrats' best hope to oppose Parris, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for governor last year.

The former mayor said his defeat by Moran should not be held against him. "I'm not embarrassed about that."

Parris has reported raising about $231,000 for this year's campaign. Beatley said last night that if he wins the nomination "we'll run a grass-roots campaign" and would not expect to compete with Parris in fund-raising.

The 8th District includes Alexandria, the southern part of Fairfax and parts of Prince William and Stafford counties.

Beatley, who called himself an "urbanologist -- that's my first love," said he had been reluctant to "share the spotlight with foreign affairs" but said "this Libyan thing might warm up. This campaign could get volatile . . . . I'm doing my homework."

Beatley said he did not have a specific position on U.S.-Libyan relations, but "I do have philosophical reservations about confrontations in foreign affairs."

Beatley acknowledged that his wife had not wanted him to run for public office again. "That was a factor until the minister got a hold of her Sunday," he said.