PRESCOTT – Former small business owner, state senator and U.S. Congressman Mike Ross formally declared his candidacy on Wednesday to seek the Democratic nomination for governor of Arkansas.

Surrounded by family, friends and supporters in his hometown of Prescott in southwestern Arkansas, the event kicked off a statewide announcement tour, Ross said, where he plans to visit more than 30 communities throughout the state in 10 days, including Texarkana, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock on Wednesday.

Ross, who represented Logan County as a Congressman, said his campaign would focus on Arkansas’s future – particularly in the areas of education and economic development – and that he would use his experience to bring people together, fight for middle-class families and move Arkansas forward.

"I’m running for governor, because I love our state and the people who call Arkansas home and because my desire to serve has never been greater," said Ross in his announcement. "I’m running for governor to build on the foundation and progress that Governor Beebe has made in the areas of education and economic development. And, I’m running for governor, because I believe in our future and want to use my experience of bringing people together to unite our state and move Arkansas forward."

The hometown celebration kicked off a statewide tour for Ross, with similar rallies in Texarkana, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock.

Ross will not face former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who jumped into the race for the Democratic nomination shortly after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel withdrew following news of an extramarital relationship broke.