Washington (CNN) - Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona Monday launched a bid for the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl.
"I'm announcing today that I'm a candidate for the US Senate," said the six-term congressman.
Kyl, the second ranking Republican in the Senate, announced Thursday that he would not run for a fourth term next year.
In a statement, Flake honored Kyl, saying "Senator Jon Kyl has given all of the eventual candidates in this race an excellent model of how to best serve Arizona and the country. He's set the bar extremely high, and I'll do my best to meet that standard."
Flake, who represents Arizona's six congressional district, which is just to the southeast of the Phoenix-Tempe metropolitan area, kicked off his Senate bid at the same Phoenix hotel where Kyl last week announced his retirement when his current term ends.
Flake highlighted the on-going battle over the deficit and government spending in making his announcement.
"The current crisis represents a clear and present danger to all of us. We are approaching a fiscal cliff, and unless we do something we're going to go right over it. I can't stress enough how important it is to be bold," said Flake.
After Kyl's announcement last week, the Club for Growth encouraged Flake to run for the Senate, and minutes after Flake made it official on Monday, the group formally endorsed the congressman.
"Jeff Flake is a proven, tireless champion for economic freedom, and Club for Growth PAC will do everything it can in the Republican primary and the general election to help him win this race," said Club President Chris Chocola, in a statement.
"Jon Kyl has been a strong, clear-eyed leader on pro-growth economic principles his entire career, and both Arizona and the country have benefited from his years of service," added Chocola. "Jeff Flake will make a perfect successor to Kyl in the seat."
The Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative organization that endorses and contributes to Republican candidates.
The most recent Federal Election Commission report shows Flake with over $627,000 cash on hand, a pretty healthy war-chest to begin a campaign.
Flake indicated he'll hit the campaign trail in the coming months, saying "as soon as possible as the Congressional schedule allows, Cheryl and I will get the kids and travel around the state and do a statewide campaign."
Former GOP Rep. John Shadegg was also considered another contender for Kyl's seat, but he said on Friday that he would not run. Other possible Republican candidates include Rep. Trent Franks, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and state Senate President Russell Pearce.
Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been contemplating a run for Senate before she was shot last month, Democratic sources last week confirmed to CNN. One Democratic congressman told CNN he talked to Giffords about it before the shooting, and says she was "very interested in the possibility of running for the Senate."
- CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash and CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report
- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn