State Rep. Erin Murphy, a St. Paul DFLer and former House majority leader with a history of political advocacy for Minnesota’s nurses, said on Thursday that she would be a candidate for governor in 2018.

Murphy’s decision to file a campaign committee makes her the first to officially enter what’s expected to be a crowded race for Minnesota’s top political job. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, now halfway through his second term, announced more than two years ago that he would not seek a third.

“I want to make sure Minnesota is a place where everyone can get ahead,” Murphy told the Star Tribune. “In the last couple years, I have been frustrated that we are putting short-term politics ahead of creating opportunity for everyone.”

Last week, Murphy was elected to her sixth term as state representative from the St. Paul House district that includes Merriam Park, Macalester-Groveland and a handful of other neighborhoods. She served as House majority leader in 2013-14.

Kicking off her campaign this early is intended to leave her ample time to travel the state and talk to potential supporters, Murphy said. She will seek the DFL endorsement in the governor’s race and won’t run in a DFL primary if someone else gets it, she said.

Republicans criticized Murphy for her support of a new Senate office building and the Affordable Care Act, issues they believe helped the GOP pick up legislative seats in the recent election.

Murphy’s decision to run “makes clear Minnesota Democrats haven’t learned anything from last week’s election results,” said John Rouleau, executive director of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, which works to elect Republicans to the Legislature and statewide offices. “Murphy is dangerously out of touch and we look forward to highlighting her record.”

While Murphy is first out of the gate in the 2018 governor’s race, it’s likely she’ll soon have company. Numerous prominent DFLers and Republicans alike are looking at the race now, and more are likely to file campaign committees in the coming weeks and months.

Murphy, 56, is a Wisconsin native who moved to Minnesota in 1988 to work as a transplant nurse at the University of Minnesota. She and her husband, Joe Faust, have twin adult daughters. She was executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association from 2001-07 and is currently an adjunct faculty member in nursing at St. Catherine.

“It was taking care of patients that led me to politics,” Murphy said. “Nursing is a discipline that requires constant decision-making.”