Former Republican Gov. David Beasley (search), who fought to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina's statehouse dome, announced Wednesday he is running for the U.S. Senate.

Beasley faces an already crowded GOP field in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (search).

Other Republicans seeking the nomination include former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint, Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Charleston real estate developer Thomas Ravenel. The Democrats running are state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum and Marcus Belk.

Beasley served one term as governor before losing to Democrat Jim Hodges (search) in a 1998 election known for heavy spending from the video gambling industry that Beasley said he would outlaw.

Beasley, 46, also was battered by his stand to remove the Confederate flag that flew atop the Statehouse dome.

Since then, Beasley has taught at Harvard University, done missionary work and received a Profile in Courage Award (search) from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum for his work to move the Confederate flag.

The Confederate flag wasn't permanently removed from the Statehouse dome until July 2000, six months after the NAACP launched a boycott of the state. The flag is now flying at a monument to Confederate dead on the Capitol grounds.

Beasley said he had been weighing the decision carefully and considering how it will affect his family.