Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and architect of the nation's bank bailout, says he is running for governor of California.
He entered the race Tuesday as a Republican newcomer who faces long odds against incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
Kashkari made the announcement in a speech at California State University, Sacramento. He cited California's public schools and economy as his motivation for running, declaring the status quo is unacceptable.
The 40-year-old Ohio native and son of Indian immigrants has no political experience and has never before sought public office.
He faces a formidable challenge in trying to unseat Brown, who is widely expected to run for another term and has $17 million in his campaign account.
Kashkari joins Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly as declared major candidates in the race. Donnelly is a tea party favorite and gun-rights advocate who lives in the San Bernardino Mountains community of Twin Peaks.
Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, another Republican moderate, dropped his campaign last week.
Kashkari worked in the aerospace industry before opting to get an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
He took a mental time-out after the stress of working in Washington, he said, before re-emerging to work for Newport Beach-based bond investment company Pimco until 2013, when he left to consider running for office.