The top civil rights enforcer in the Clinton administration announced Thursday he will seek the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts governor in 2006.

Deval Patrick (search) cited what he said were weaknesses in the economy, business development, public education and health care.

"We don't suffer from a lack of ideas, but from a failure of leadership," Patrick said in a statement. "Not only are we losing jobs and population, but we are losing faith in ourselves."

The 48-year-old Patrick, who has never held elective office, had publicly weighed a run for months and has donated $100,000 to his own campaign.

After his time in the Justice Department, he spent three years at Coca-Cola Co. (search), dealing with high-profile lawsuits and two ongoing federal investigations.

While Patrick is the first Democrat to formally announce a candidacy, state Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly (search) is the considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Mitt Romney (search).

Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin (search) is also weighing a campaign.

Republicans have held the governor's post since William Weld took office in 1991.