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Former Congressman Bell to seek Democratic nomination for governor

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Former U.S. Congressman Chris Bell, who for the past six months has been exploring the possibility of seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, has announced he is "in" the race.

Bell, whose actions prompted an ethics investigation against U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas after Bell lost his U.S. House seat due to DeLay-led Texas redistricting efforts, will kick off his campaign on Sunday, Aug. 14, in Austin.

"Today, I am proud to share the news that I've decided to run for governor," Bell said in a letter to supporters. Bell said in his recent months of exploring entering the gubernatorial race, many told him a Democrat would have a tough time in such a high-profile Texas race. However, he also noted that "the overwhelming majority of people with whom I spoke could also see that Rick Perry is creating a huge opportunity for a Democrat. They also agreed it wasn't enough for me to be right about Rick Perry being wrong; it would take a positive message that could unite all Texans." Bell took off the kid gloves in the opening round, saying Texans are questioning the current governor's leadership abilities. "Rick Perry couldn't lead a silent prayer," said Bell. In addition, Bell said Texans he has visited with (particularly parents and public school teachers) share his frustration with "Enron-style accountability" in public schools that he says "encourages dropouts and systematic fraud by teaching our kids nothing as much as how to take yet another standardized test." Acknowledging that Democrats in Texas have not been very successful in statewide races in recent years, Bell is undaunted. "We are going in with eyes wide open," he said, "aware not only of the odds but also of the possibilities to achieve great things for Texas."

Bell, a native of Abilene, began his public service career when he was elected to the Houston City Council in 1997. He was elected to Congress in 2002. He was defeated in his bid for re-election to Congress when his district was redrawn by DeLay-led Congressional Republicans.