Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is running for the Senate in 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“I am writing to let you know that I have just announced my decision to run for the U.S. Senate from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2012,” Kaine wrote in am email to DNC members today. He called the move “an exciting next chapter for my family and me, as I embark down a new path.”

Kaine’s announcement is a major recruiting success for Senate Democrats who had worked hard to convince the former Virginia governor to make the race. It also sets up a potential battle of Virginia political titans as Kaine could well face off against former Sen. George Allen (R) in the general election.

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) is retiring after a single term.

In a two-minute video put out by the campaign, Kaine touts his success during four years as governor — from 2005 to 2009 — but never mentions either President Obama or Kaine’s tenure at the DNC, a telling sign of how he plans to run as a local candidate not a national one.

Republicans, of course, won’t let him off that easily. “Over the last several years, Tim Kaine has been the most vocal cheerleader in Washington for the reckless fiscal policies and massive expansion of government that have been the hallmark of the Obama Administration,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh.

Kaine’s departure from the DNC leaves vacant that high profile post. An announcement on his successor is expected soon with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz seen as the frontrunners.