NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. filed the federal paperwork Wednesday to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist.
The five-term congressman from Memphis is the second Democrat to enter the 2006 race. Frist has said he does not plan to seek a third term.
"I'm excited," Ford said in a telephone interview from Washington. "I'm ready to go."
He said his top issues would be energy reform, national security and education.
Ford, 35, is a member of a Memphis political dynasty and bills himself as a moderate. He delivered the keynote address at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) for the post of House minority leader in 2002 and served as a national campaign co-chairman for Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential run in 2004.
Ford's father represented Memphis in Congress for 22 years. An uncle is a state senator now under investigation for his consulting deals with companies doing business with the state.
State Sen. Rosalind Kurita is a candidate for the Democratic nomination.
Republicans running for Frist's seat include former Reps. Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary and former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker.
Robert H. Swansbrough, a political science professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said Ford should easily win his party's nomination, but might lack the statewide name recognition of the GOP front-runners. Hilleary ran for governor in 2002 and Bryant lost the 2002 Senate primary.