California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) has made it official, launching a bid on Tuesday to replace retiring Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE (D-Calif.).

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"I'm excited to share with you that I'm launching my campaign to represent the people of California in the United States Senate," she said in an email to supporters.

The rising Democratic star frames herself as a populist warrior in the announcement.

"I want to be a voice for Californians on these issues and others that impact our state in the U.S. Senate," she wrote. "I will be a fighter for the next generation on the critical issues facing our country. I will be a fighter for middle class families who are feeling the pinch of stagnant wages and diminishing opportunity. I will be a fighter for our children who deserve a world-class education, and for students burdened by predatory lenders and skyrocketing tuition. And I will fight relentlessly to protect our coast, our immigrant communities and our seniors."

Harris begins the race as a front-runner for the seat, though she could face some heavy-hitting Democratic opponents. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer (D) and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) are both giving the race a serious look, as are a number of other lesser-known Democrats.

But Harris promises to be a formidable candidate. She's well liked by many liberal activists, and her profile as a relatively young, female African-American has made a lot of establishment Democrats sit up and take notice.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee heaped praise on Harris shortly after her announcement, though it stopped short of endorsing her.

"With strong candidates like Kamala Harris, Democrats remain confident that we'll hold this seat and continue Barbara Boxer's long history of fighting for California. The DSCC will continue to monitor the California Senate race closely," said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky.

The Hill reported Monday night that Harris would be jumping in the race.

— This story was updated at 10:50 a.m.