North Carolina state Speaker Thom Tillis announced Friday he will challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
The Republican has long been expected to take on the first-term senator, who is among the most vulnerable incumbents facing re-election next year. He's the first major challenger to Hagan, though other Republicans are eyeing the race.
"Friends, I have decided to run for the US Senate against Kay Hagan in 2014," Tillis wrote in a morning tweet. "I hope to earn your support."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Tillis said defeating Hagan would help Republicans win the Senate majority and "turn the country in the right direction." He plans to officially enter the race next week.
Other Republicans considering a bid include former Ambassador Jim Cain, state Senate President Phil Berger, Rep. Virginia Foxx, former Charlotte City Councilman Lynn Wheeler and the Rev. Mark Harris. Tea party activist Greg Brannon and two other Republicans are already in the race.
Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Toss-up/Tilt Democrat.