ATLANTA – A freshman congresswoman said Monday she will run for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Zell Miller (search), joining a race in which Democrats have struggled to field a strong candidate.
Rep. Denise Majette (search), elected two years ago in suburban DeKalb County, becomes the highest-profile Democrat to seek the office. The two others are little-known state senators.
Republicans, however, have four candidates, including two incumbent congressmen who have been campaigning for nearly a year.
Majette acknowledged that Democrats are foundering in the race.
"If the Democratic Party leadership here had their act together, they wouldn't be in this situation," she said. Majette said she didn't talk to Miller or the state Democratic party before deciding to run.
Majette, who has no statewide fund-raising network, said she will need to raise $5 million to $10 million to compete in the July 20 primary.
Majette is best known for toppling former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (search), another black Democrat, in 2002. McKinney was an outspoken opponent of President Bush and made enemies in her own party. She has said she will run again for her old House seat.
Majette, a former state court judge, portrayed herself as a more diplomatic version of McKinney. On Monday, she said was running to counter GOP messages that she finds extreme.
"The Republicans keep trotting out their right-wing rhetoric on God, guns and gays in an attempt to divide the electorate and distract from the serious problems they're not addressing," she said.
The two Republican incumbents in the race are Reps. Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins. Republicans Herman Cain, the former president of Godfather's Pizza, and businessman Al Bartell, also are running.
Majette also faces Democratic state Sens. Mary Squires and Nadine Thomas.