By Letitia Stein
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Florida Republican congressman Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday he will seek the Senate seat currently held by Marco Rubio, who is forgoing re-election to run for the GOP's presidential nomination.
DeSantis, a conservative from North Florida who is in his second term in the House of Representatives, pledged to campaign on policies limiting the role of government.
"America needs a new generation of leaders to address the big issues facing the country: alleviating the middle-class squeeze and promoting economic opportunity, confronting the significant national security challenges threatening the safety of our people, and reforming the culture of Washington, D.C.," he said in a statement announcing his candidacy.
The open Senate seat in Florida, the nation's largest swing state, is considered a toss-up that could see one of the most hotly contested congressional elections in 2016.
Democratic U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy from southeast Florida also is running, already drawing wide support from his party's leaders.
DeSantis, 36, stresses in his biography that he worked odd jobs to put himself through college at Yale University, then earned his law degree at Harvard Law School.
He has worked as a federal and military prosecutor and served in the U.S. Navy, deploying to Iraq in 2007 as an advisor, according to the biography on his campaign website.
He currently is a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve.
DeSantis lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville on the state's northeastern coast.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Bill Trott)