INDIANAPOLIS Representative Mike Pence announced on Thursday he's running for the Republican nomination for Indiana governor in 2012.
The six-term congressman made it official this morning in a long-expected announcement to supporters via conference call, e-mail, Facebook and video.
The conservative Republican also filed papers with the Indiana Secretary of State forming the "Mike Pence for Indiana" committee.
Pence said a formal campaign kickoff will follow but said he wanted supporters to know "I'm in this race." Making reference to the Indianapolis 500, he told supporters "any real Hoosier knows that every big race begins in May anyway."
Pence, 51, was first elected to Congress in 2000 and has become a popular voice of the national conservative movement. When he resigned from a House Republican leadership position last November, speculation grew about his political plans.
He ended rumors he'd be seeking the Republican presidential nomination but left the governor's race open, fueling speculation he had his eye on succeeding Governor Mitch Daniels.
"Our state is on the edge of an era of growth and opportunity like no other in our lifetime," he told supporters.
Under Daniels' leadership, "Indiana has set the pace in fiscal responsibility, job creation and reform," Pence said. "But our work is not over."
Indiana law bars a governor from serving more than two consecutive terms and Daniels' second four-year-term is coming to a close. Daniels is considering whether to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Pence spearheaded the effort to strip funding for Planned Parenthood from the budget during congressional debates. Indiana's legislature passed a bill that will bar federal funds to Planned Parenthood of Indiana.
Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker said Pence has spent a decade in Congress focusing on "divisive issues" rather than working for the people of Indiana.
"Hoosiers cherish compromise, and we need leadership that can go beyond party lines, work across the aisle to solve our economic challenges and create the jobs we so desperately need in Indiana," Parker said in a statement.
"No part of that sentence describes Congressman Mike Pence."
Former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg is expected to announce his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
Former Attorney General Steve Carter also is considering getting into the Republican race and Hamilton County businessman Jim Wallace has already said he will seek the GOP nod.
(Writing and reporting by Susan Guyett; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)