(CNN) – Two-time Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi officially jumped into the Senate race in Washington state Wednesday, following months of cajoling from national Republicans who view the area businessman as the strongest candidate to defeat incumbent Democrat Sen. Patty Murray.
"Over the past several months, as I watched Congress pile more and more debt on top of our children and grandchildren, as I watched them ram through a partisan, ill-conceived health care bill, as I watched them pass new job-killing taxes and regulations, I knew I had to do something about it," Rossi says in a web video. "That's why I've made the decision to run for the United States Senate."
Rossi, currently a commercial real estate investor, is arguably the best known Republican in Washington state, thanks to his two bids for governor. In an election that went into overtime, Rossi lost to Democrat Christine Gregoire by just a handful of votes six years ago. He was again defeated in a 2008 rematch by a wider margin.
Polls of Washington state voters conducted this year suggest that Rossi could be competitive with the three-term Murray - the so-called Senate "soccer mom" whose approval rating is hovering around 50 percent back home. But Murray is sitting on a formidable $6 million campaign war chest, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Elections Commission at the end of March, and handily won her reelection bids in 1998 and 2004.
Rossi, a former state senator, appears to be kicking of his campaign in the Democratic-leaning state with a message of inclusion, touting his record of working to balance the budget with both Republicans and Democrats.
"I did it by seeking out a fiscally conservative majority, rather than a partisan majority," he says in the video. "Now I want to help do the same thing in the other Washington."
But as Rossi enters the race, he is already facing fire from both the right and the left. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed another Republican running for the seat, Tea Party favorite and formal NFL player Clint Didier. Didier himself has attacked Rossi as a firmly entrenched member of the Republican establishment.
National Democrats also took aim at the newly-minted candidate Wednesday, circulating a memo to reporters that raises questions about Rossi's investments in foreclosed properties and his firm's failure to pay property taxes on a building it owned.