Hovland was once a Republican, but said he switched parties in September when asked if he would consider replacing Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad. Ramstad is not running for reelection.
Hovland says his top priorities are improving the economy, getting a handle on rising health care costs and improving the nation's transportation infrastructure.
Hovland says, like Ramstad, he'll be able to get voters of every political persuasion to support him.
"If you think about the district being divided evenly between Republicans, Democrats and Independents, you just have to do the math to figure out that he was getting support beyond his own party. And I think I can do that too," said Hovland.
Hovland says he intends to abide by the DFL party endorsement, but left the door open to running in a primary.
State Sen. Terri Bonoff and Iraq war veteran Ashwin Madia are also running as Democrats. Republican State Rep. Erik Paulsen is expected to formally enter the race soon.
The 3rd District includes several western Twin Cities suburbs.