Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper made it official yesterday that he will seek the Democratic nomination to run against Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth Jr. (R), pushing the state to the front ranks of senatorial battlegrounds in next year's elections.

Both are popular figures with a long history of winning elections. Roth, 78, has served five terms in the Senate. Carper, 52, has won 10 consecutive statewide contests over the past two decades, including five terms in Congress. He is barred by the state constitution from seeking a third term as governor.

Carper's candidacy buoys Democratic hopes to gain seats in the Senate, which got an earlier boost from the decision by New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) not to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D). Republicans now control the Senate 55 to 45.

Carper signaled at a news conference in Wilmington that he will campaign on the "centrist policies that have allowed Delaware to shine" and on a pledge to help restore "civility" in Washington.

'Conservative Choice' Keyes Makes It Official

Conservative talk show host Alan Keyes officially joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination this week--announcing his candidacy in Iowa on Monday and in New Hampshire yesterday.

"The grass-roots Republicans in this state deserve a real conservative choice and I am determined that they will have one," he told about 60 supporters in Bedford, N.H., the Associated Press reported.

Keyes, who also ran for the nomination in 1996, said: "I will fight on the line of moral principle within the Republican Party until we prevail. I will not desert the party."

He criticized Patrick J. Buchanan's threat to bolt to the Reform Party, telling fans in Des Moines, "How could someone committed to the moral conservative agenda . . . move into a party where moral indifference has been a hallmark since they were founded?"

Keyes, who is at single digits in the polls, told supporters not to worry about the media or pollsters.

Moynihan Plans to Endorse Bradley

The battle over presidential campaign endorsements continues--and so far no shockers. As expected, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) plans to throw his support behind Bill Bradley on Thursday. He joins an eclectic mix of former Bradley colleagues, Sens. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.).

Vice President Gore, meanwhile, has officially added California Gov. Gray Davis to his team and is on the verge of announcing the endorsement of Hawaii Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano.

And two days after a nonpartisan poll showed Bradley and Gore tied in New York, the vice president released a list of nine New York House members and 100 Long Island Democrats supporting his candidacy.

Staff writer Ceci Connolly contributed to this report.