Republican U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (search), who was praised and vilified for her role as Florida's secretary of state in the 2000 presidential recount, said Tuesday she will run for the U.S. Senate next year against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson (search).

Her announcement brings a high-profile name and the potential to raise a substantial amount of money to a race that Republicans already have said they would target.

"Today, after months of encouragement from friends and constituents, colleagues and advisers, many prayers and with the love and support of my family, the time has come to launch a campaign for the U.S. Senate," Harris told The Associated Press.

Harris, who is serving her second term in Congress, will formally announce her plans in July. The Sarasota woman considered running for Senate last year after Bob Graham (search) announced his retirement. After weeks of speculation, she said she would run later, just not in 2004.

Running against an incumbent may be a more difficult challenge, but Harris is considered a top fundraiser and is a popular figure among Republicans.

"Humbled by the task ahead but knowing in my heart that one of the greatest honors in life is having a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, I am confident I can accomplish more for the people of Florida, and experience reminds me I've always done best when I've started out as the underdog," Harris said.