The Providence Journal reported Pell, 32, released a campaign video Monday night in which he says, "I decided to run for governor because I believe I can help to restore hope and economic growth to our state." Earlier in the day he sent out a media advisory with a "Clay Pell for Governor" logo saying he would have a "special announcement" Tuesday.
Pell, a lawyer who has served as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, is married to former Olympian Michelle Kwan. His grandfather, Claiborne Pell, served six terms in the U.S. Senate.
This is his first run for public office. He will run against state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras in the Democratic primary in September.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Moderate Party founder Ken Block are running for the Republican nomination.
Incumbent Democrat Lincoln Chafee is not seeking re-election.