Democrat Alan Khazei, the co-founder of the City Year youth program, entered the race for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Scott Brown.
Khazei made his formal announcement on Tuesday in messages on social media and in email to supporters. He later told reporters that Brown had failed to take the lead on major issues in Congress.
"We have to provide jobs for people," he said. "We have to restore the American dream. We have to make sure we're ensuring opportunity for all of our children through a strong education system. We gotta deal with energy. Gas prices are at $4 a gallon. We have to get off of Mideast fossil fuels and embrace clean and renewable alternatives."
It will be Khazei's second run for the seat that was held for nearly a half century by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. He was one of four candidates who ran in the Democratic primary leading up to the January 2010 special election, garnering 13 percent of the vote and finishing third behind Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano.
Coakley lost to Brown in the special election. Brown, whose victory instantly catapulted him into the national spotlight, is serving out the remainder of Kennedy's term and plans to seek a full six-year term in the November 2012 election.
Khazei makes no mention of Brown in a 2 1/2 minute video posted on his website, but some of his themes echoed those from Brown's successful campaign.
Khazei said his travels around Massachusetts and his discussions with ordinary citizens convinced him that the American dream was in trouble and current system in Washington wasn't working.
"It's stacked in favor of powerful special interests and is designed for a time long gone by," he said. Congress must cut waste "while investing in our economic future," he said.
Khazei was planning campaign stops this week in Boston, Worcester and Springfield.
Despite being a virtual political unknown prior to the Democratic Senate primary, Khazei demonstrated some fundraising success in his first try for elected office.
According to Federal Election Commission records, he was able to raise more than $3 million during the relatively brief campaign, the vast majority of it coming from individual contributions. Khazei finished the race with only about $16,000 cash on hand.
Any Democrat challenging Brown is likely to face an uphill battle on several fronts. According to the most recent FEC filing, the incumbent has about $8 million in his campaign account and recent public opinion polls have shown he remains very popular in Massachusetts, a state otherwise dominated by Democratic politicians.
Other potential Democratic challengers include Capuano, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, first-term Newton Mayor Setti Warren and businessman Robert Pozen.
Robert Massie, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, is the only other declared Democratic candidate.
With reporting from The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on April 26, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.