TAMPA, Fla (Reuters) - Former Ruth's Chris Steak House chief executive Craig Miller jetted around Florida on Tuesday to announce he will seek the Republican nomination for the 2012 Senate race.
Miller, who last year failed to make it past the Republican primary for a congressional seat, joins a growing list of candidates seeking to take on incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
The restaurateur and Air Force veteran was making stops at airports in Tampa, Orlando, Naples, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville to launch his campaign.
Miller, 61, said he has been listening to Floridians who believe the federal government is too big, too intrusive and taking too much of their money.
"I have been paying attention to Main Street," he told a small group gathered in Tampa. "Folks in Washington, particularly Bill Nelson, have not."
Miller said he created 40,000 jobs during his time at the Red Lobster, Pizzeria Uno and Ruth's Chris restaurants chains. He was ousted by Ruth's Chris in 2008 as the company struggled financially.
Other Republicans in the primary race include former appointed Senator George LeMieux, State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former State House majority leader Adam Hasner and retired U.S. Army Colonel Mike McCalister.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton)