Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona announced that he is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the Arizona Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jon Kyl.

"Like most Arizonans, it's clear to me that Washington is broken, and it is time for honest people with real world experience to step forward to solve the problems we are facing and get our economy going again," he said in a statement announcing his candidacy.

Carmona, 61, was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents. After serving with the military in Vietnam, he earned a medical degree and settled in Arizona, where he returned after serving as surgeon general for four years during the George W. Bush administration.

"As a Special Forces medic in Vietnam, a trauma surgeon, and deputy sheriff in Arizona - we never had time for petty squabbles or gamesmanship - we had to work together to get results," the candidate said Thursday.

"After returning to Arizona and joining the business community, I have seen firsthand what it takes to get our economy moving. I have devoted my life to serving my country and my community," Carmona said.

The former high official will first have to run in his party's primaries against Don Bivens, attorney and ex-president of the Democratic Party in Arizona.

Rodd McLeod, a political adviser who is helping Carmona organize his campaign team, told The Arizona Republic that the doctor will make his candidacy official in the coming weeks.

According to the daily, Carmona's candidacy and the participation of McLeon in the campaign "is a clear sign" that Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will not enter the race for Kyl's U.S. Senate seat.

McLeod, who has just founded his own consultancy, was the manager of Giffords' electoral campaigns.

Giffords, who has served three terms in the House of Representatives, was shot in the head in Tucson last Jan. 8 while taking part in a political meeting.

Last month Carmona told The Arizona Republic that before deciding on his political future, he would seek guarantees that Giffords would not stand as a candidate for Kyl's seat.

So far, the only other Democratic hopeful is former state party chairman Don Bivens.

On the Republican side, the candidates for the seat are Rep. Jeff Flake, real-estate investor Wil Cardon, general contractor Douglas McKee, talk radio host Clair Van Steenwyk and the former mayor of Youngtown, Bryan Hackbarth.