Even though Sen. John C. Stennis (D-Miss.), 86, hasn't announced whether he will seek an eighth term, his campaign committee is preparing for a Washington fund-raiser in November. Currently, Stennis has only $210 in his campaign treasury.

"He has not made any kind of announcement, but every indication he has given has been that that is his intention," Stennis spokesman Rex Buffington said.

One Democratic consultant suggested that despite a flurry of campaign activity by the Stennis staff, "I would not take it as a foregone conclusion that he is going to run."

Stennis has said that he wants to wait until after the November gubernatorial election before he makes his decision; but he has lots of time -- the qualifying deadline for the Senate race is Jan. 8.

Possible Republican challengers include Rep. Trent Lott, although Lott has said in the past that he would not challenge Stennis, former congressman Webb Franklin and former White House aide Haley Barbour, who challenged Stennis in 1982.

On the Democratic side, if Stennis does not run, Rep. Wayne Dowdy is considered likely to run. Another possible candidate is former representative David Bowen. Secretary of State Dick Molpus also has been looking at the race.