Six-term Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland (search) will run for governor, though he had ruled out such a run in January, two party officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Strickland, 63, will make the announcement early next week, said the officials in Ohio and Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The congressman would not confirm or deny a run for governor, a job held by Republicans since 1991.

"I have decided what to do in regard to my future plans," Strickland said in a brief interview at the Capitol. He said it was "highly unlikely I will run for the Senate."

Gov. Bob Taft (search), first elected in 1998, cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Strickland's entry into the governor's race would be a blow to Senate Democrats, who have tried to recruit him to challenge two-term Republican Sen. Mike DeWine (search) next year.

Strickland would become the second Democrat in the governor's race, joining Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman (search).

Strickland had said in January that he preferred to stay in Washington to work on such issues as health care, veterans needs, trade policies and Social Security. The sources gave no reason for the turnaround.

Three statewide officeholders — Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, Attorney General Jim Petro and Auditor Betty Montgomery — are seeking the GOP nomination.