Longtime Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a political conservative, announced his candidacy for governor on Sunday.
Abbott's move came less than a week after Gov. Rick Perry said he would not seek another term in Austin, clearing a potential path, some say, for him to run for president.
Abbott made the announcement in San Antonio, a decision that many expected as he has already raised tens of millions for the race.
"When it comes to our freedom and our future, I will never -- I will never stop fighting," he said.
First elected attorney general in 2002, Abbott has defended socially conservative causes during his tenure. These include pushing for the display of a Ten Commandments monument of the grounds of the Texas Capitol in 2005.
He also has sued the Obama administration more than 25 times, including case that led to the landmark Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, last year.
"Greg Abbott's entry into the governor's race gives Texans a strong candidate who will continue Governor Rick Perry's legacy of pro-jobs policies and successful conservative leadership," said Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
"As an avid defender of state sovereignty, Greg has amassed an unprecedented record for preserving individual rights and stopping federal overreach," he said.
Democrats have not yet put up a candidate for an office they have not held in nearly 20 years. Ann Richards, who left in 1995, was the last Democratic governor of the state.
Many have encouraged state Sen. Wendy Davis to run. Her filibuster of anti-abortion legislation that is expected to become law this week drew wide attention to the legislation and her as a political figure.
Democrats were quick to blast Abbott as an out-of-touch conservative.
"Greg Abbott's entrance into the race for Governor in Texas is another step backward for a national Republican Party trying to gain relevance outside of its narrow, right-wing base," the Democratic National Committee said.