TRENTON - The race to replace Republican Gov. Chris Christie has its first official candidate.

Democrat Phil Murphy officially declared himself a candidate on Monday in an email and video sent to supporters.

Murphy is the United States' former ambassador to Germany. He also previously worked on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs.

He launched an advocacy organization focused on the state's middle class last year that was seen as a forerunner to a campaign.

He is expected to be joined by a crowded field of Democrats in next year's primary.

Christie's term runs through the end of 2017.