From NBC's Pete Williams and Mark Murray
US officials say the Justice Department has indicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) on charges related to a long-running investigation of business dealings in Alaska.
Stevens, who has served in the US Senate for 40 years, is up for re-election this year, and Democrats view his seat as one of their top pick-up opportunities.
*** UPDATE *** The Cook Political Report labels the Alaska Senate race as a "toss up."
However, before the general election, Stevens has to survive a GOP primary that occurs on August 26.
*** UDPATE II *** NBC's Ken Strickland adds that, per Senate GOP caucus rules, if a member is indicted, he or she can no longer serve as chairman or ranking member of a committee until the case is resolved. Upon conviction, the chair/ranking member would automatically be replaced.
Stevens is ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.