NORWALK, Calif. (KABC) -- California Attorney General Kamala Harris wants to be a U.S. senator, and she has already been campaigning for a seat for more than a year.
"We got in early, we've been running hard, and this makes it official. So I'm very excited," Harris said.
Wednesday, she formally and legally declared herself a candidate, filling out the official paperwork at the registrar's office in Norwalk.
The Democratic attorney general is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retires from her post at the end of her term in 2017.
Harris says there are some key issues she's focusing on, including education, the economy, the environment and equality.
"That's everything from what we need to do around continuing to fight for the rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters, to what we need to do around immigration reform, to what we need to do around protecting a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body," Harris said.
Since announcing, Harris has been the frontrunner, leading in the polls.
Luis Vizcaino, a campaign spokesman for Harris' Democratic rival Rep. Loretta Sanchez, maintained that Sanchez is the most qualified for the seat. He released the following statement:
- "California needs an experienced and proven leader to tackle the full range of economic, educational and foreign relation challenges we face today. Our next U.S. Senator must have an extensive legislative and national security background and share the life experiences of working families - and that's Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who last year was named one of the 25 most influential women in Congress by CQ Roll Call because she knows how to work with members from both sides of the aisle. She is the most qualified candidate for the job of U.S. Senator."
Republican candidate lawyer Duf Sundheim says he disagrees with Harris' stances but welcomes her into the race. His campaign released the following statement:
If Harris wins the seat, she would be the first Indian American to ever serve in the Senate and the second-ever African-American woman.
She says her strategy is to truly connect with voters.
"Sitting and talking with them and listening, most importantly, and then hopefully, this work will result in a successful bid for the United States Senate," Harris said.
Harris said she's heading to the Democratic convention in San Jose later this week and wanted to file her paperwork ahead of her trip.