Paul Hackett (search), the Iraq War veteran from Cincinnati who was hailed by national Democrats for his narrow loss this summer in a heavily Republican House district, has decided to challenge Mike DeWine (search) for U.S. Senate in 2006.

Spokesman David Woodruff, who served as Hackett's campaign manager in his special election campaign for the 2nd District House seat against Jean Schmidt, confirmed Hackett's run Monday evening. Hackett had spent the last month hinting at a run against Ohio's senior senator, who is in his second six-year term.

Hackett was flying back Monday evening from Washington after meeting with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Woodruff said.

Reid's spokeswoman, Tessa Hefen, would not confirm or deny the meeting Monday, but Woodruff later said Reid gave Hackett the confidence to run.

"He found overwhelming support from the leaders of the Democratic Party, campaign organizations and staff," Woodruff said.

DeWine campaign manager Matt Carle said DeWine has a a good record as a senator and "we look forward to presenting that record to the voters next year."

Hackett drew national attention by earning 48 percent of the vote Aug. 2 in Ohio's 2nd District, which voted 64 percent for President Bush last year. Schmidt and other Republicans have said the summertime special election for the House should not be considered as a bellwether for other congressional elections.