WASHINGTON — Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore on Thursday formally joined the crowded field seeking the Republican presidential nomination for the 2016 election.

“I’m a candidate for president because our current Washington leadership is guiding America on a path to decline and I can reverse that decline,” Gilmore said in a video announcement.

Gilmore, 65, who served as Virginia’s governor from 1998 to 2002, becomes the 17th candidate to enter the Republican field.

He briefly sought the 2008 Republican nomination before dropping out.

Businessman Donald Trump has taken a commanding lead in the Republican race with 25 percent support in a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in second place with 12 percent.

The first official Republican debate will be held next Thursday evening in Cleveland. It will be limited to the top 10 candidates based on national polling, a threshold Gilmore is unlikely to make.

The other presidential hopefuls will participate in a forum earlier in the day.