The two-year race to replace President Obama in the White House has its first semi-official contender: Jim Webb.
On Wednesday night, the former one-term Virginia senator and Navy secretary in the Reagan administration announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee for 2016. While not a formal campaign committee, the move allows Webb, a Democrat, to raise money as decides whether to run. He is the first known candidate of either party to take that step.
Webb made his announcement in a letter and a 14-minute video posted on his new website, voicing his frustration at the lack of "positive, visionary leadership" in the country. "We desperately need to fix our country, and to reinforce the values that have sustained us for more than two centuries, many of which have fallen by the wayside during the nasty debates of the last several years," he said. "I hope you will consider joining me in that effort."
In making an early move toward the race, Webb becomes the first Democrat to challenge the assumed candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who has dominated early polling and would be considered the heavy favorite for the nomination if she runs. Webb made no mention of either Clinton or Obama in his video, but he focused on the theme of income inequality that has become a top concern for progressives.