SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com/AP) — Garden Grove Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez officially announced Thursday the launch of her campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently belonging to outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Her candidacy injects competition in a 2016 race that had been shaping up as a runaway for another Democrat, state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The announcement Thursday from the 55-year-old Sanchez came after two days of mixed signals. She and advisers said Tuesday that she was undecided, after a misfired email said she would announce her candidacy this week.

Sanchez, 55, is serving her 10th House term, representing a district based in Orange County.

Her candidacy creates a contrast with Harris.

Sanchez is Hispanic with a background in national defense issues and roots in Southern California. Harris is a lawyer from the San Francisco Bay Area whose father is black and mother is Indian.

The campaign comes months after Boxer announced in January she would not seek reelection in 2016.

Sanchez was elected to Congress in 1996 when she narrowly unseated six-term Republican incumbent Robert K. Dornan, who she later easily defeated in a rematch two years later.

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