Hagan, a 54-year-old attorney, said she would bring a fresh voice and a new accountability to Washington, Rob Christensen reports. She said she would be a voice against continuing the war in Iraq.
"We need accountability to end the war in Iraq, so we can reinvest those resources here at home," Hagan said in a video announcement on her Web site. "How can Washingtion reject health care for 123,000 children while continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on this mismanged war?"
Hagan had earlier this month announced she would not run for the U.S. Senate. But Democratic leaders in Raleigh and Washington had urged her to reconsider.
The Democrats have had difficulty recruiting a seasoned public official to challenge Dole. Numerous Democrats, including Gov. Mike Easley, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and state Rep. Grier Martin, had said they would not run.
Two Democrats have already announced their candidacy. Jim Neal, a Chapel Hill investment banker, said he plans to run. Also in the race is John Ross Hendrix, a graphic artist from Cary.
Read more after the jump.
Hagan is one of the highest-ranking women in the state legislature, serving as co-chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
A native of Shelby and mother of three grown children, Hagan said she has a proven record of helping produce balanced budgets, increasing access to health care for 25,000 children, capping the gas tax and providing equipment to the National Guard.
Democrats have viewed Dole as vulnerable because of her support for the war in Iraq and her ties to President Bush.
But Democrats also have been wary in challenging her because she is among the best known women in American public life having served in two Cabinet posts, run for president, and served as president of the American Red Cross.
Hagan made clear in her announcement that she hopes to tap into public discontent with Washington, and to portray herself as an independent voice not tied to powerful special interests.