(CNN) – Kentucky Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo, a Democrat and practicing surgeon, announced Monday he plans to challenge Republican Sen. Jim Bunning in 2010.
The move sets up a possible rematch of the memorable 2004 Senate race, in which Bunning ran what was regarded by many as a lackadaisical campaign but still managed to eke out a win over Mongiardo by just 1.4 percentage points.
Mongiardo said in a statement he will “launch a vigorous campaign replace Senator Jim Bunning” and pledged to focus on shoring up America’s health care system if elected.
Bunning, a former Major League All-Star who has served in the Senate since 1998, is seen as one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the 2010 cycle. According to The Hill, some bluegrass Republicans are mulling asking Bunning to stand down to make room for a more energetic candidate.
Mongiardo is the first Democrat to announce a challenge to Bunning, but other state officials are reportedly eyeing the seat as well.