[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.kaybailey.gi.jpg caption="Hutchison announced she will challenge Gov. Rick Perry."](CNN) - Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said Monday she will challenge Republican Gov. Rick Perry in a primary matchup and reported raising over $6.7 million for the bid in the first half of the year.
"Today I am announcing that the exploratory committee is closed," Hutchison said at a Dallas press conference. "The campaign for governor of Texas is open for business. I am so excited and ready to go."
The four term senator has made no secret about her interest in challenging the more conservative Perry, having established an exploratory committee and campaign staff months ago.
In her announcement Monday, Hutchison said the fundraising haul far exceeded her initial goal of $5 million and will leave the campaign with more than $12 million cash on hand.
The 65 year-old former Texas State Treasurer also said she plans a formal kickoff in August when she will have time to tour the state.
Hutchison's cash haul compares to the $4.2 million Perry raised during the same period, though the 59 year-old Texas governor was barred from raising any money until the end of the legislative session in June. A spokesman for Perry's campaign said the governor has more than $9 million cash on hand.
Praising the "depth and width" of her support, Hutchison dismissed suggestions she had more time than Perry to raise money.
"We both had six months, we were both asking for commitments. We were both out there asking for money," she said.