Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) announced Wednesday that he'll seek the Democratic Senate nomination to challenge first-term Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in 2016.
"I'm running for the United States Senate in 2016 because I am determined to restore the American Dream for working people in this country," Strickland said in a statement, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I believe in the American Dream because I've lived it."
Strickland, who once told The Huffington Post that he had "no plans to run for the Senate," left his position as president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and began fundraising for the bid earlier this month. He has high name recognition in the state, as he served six terms in Congress before winning the governorship.
P.G. Sittenfeld, a 30-year-old member of the Cincinnati City Council, announced in January that he will also run in the Democratic primary for the seat. Some pundits have speculated as to whether Sittenfeld will eventually drop out to give Strickland a clear path to the nomination.
In a state where Democrats faced a tough 2014 cycle -- Republicans swept Ohio's statewide races last year -- Strickland's progressive stances may generate some much-needed energy at the top of the ticket. Ohio voters, who elected the likeminded Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to the Senate in 2006 and 2012, may find Strickland's progressive viewpoints appealing. Then again, Strickland lost his gubernatorial reelection to Gov. John Kasich (R) in 2010 -- which was also a Republican wave year.
Unseating Portman will require some catching up in the fundraising department, as the Republican already had nearly $6 million in the bank last month.