Kaine joins Va. Senate race 

Setting up what could very well be the most closely watched U.S. Senate race in 2012, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine ended speculation Tuesday by formally announcing that he’s running for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

In an online video, Kaine highlights accomplishments during his time as a Richmond city councilman and mayor, including fighting crime and building schools, as well as during his tenure as governor.

“As governor, I helped lead Virginia through the toughest economy in 70 years,” he said. “We cut billions from the state budget, tightened our belt and made government more efficient.”

“I’m running for the United State Senate because America has big challenges, and I’m convinced that Virginia has answers to help strengthen our nation,” he continued. “While we still have an awful lot of work to do to help Virginians who are struggling in a tough time, I know that Washington can learn a few things from Virginia. When we attack common obstacles, instead of each other, we solve problems and get things done.”

Kaine has been prodded for some time by Democrats to get into the race, and the announcement sets up a potential match-up with former Virginia Sen. George Allen, who is running for the GOP nomination, in a state that could prove pivotal in President Obama's 2012 reelection bid.

Other Republican candidates who announced they’re running include Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke and Hampton Roads attorney David McCormick.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., recently told NBC’s Richmond affiliate that he would decide on a possible run by July.

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