Chris Bell, a former Democratic congressman, spent Tuesday touring East Texas and announcing his intention to run against Republican Sen. John Cornyn in the 2020 race for the Senate.

“The reason I got in the race is because I’m horrified, like a lot of other people, about the direction the country is taking,” he said. “I’ve been very disappointed to see that we have a senator who is going right along and has tied himself at the hip to and has made himself a sort of water boy to the president.”

The number of people who have announced plans to run in the Democratic primary are a sign of the state progressing, he said.

He said he believes Texas leads the country, so the leaders of the state must be people who will fight strongly for the state’s values.

Bell said the tariffs President Donald Trump have instituted on Mexico have done nothing to help Texas, and that Texas needs someone willing to stand up for the state.

“When those types of policies are being presented, I think the senator from Texas has a responsibility to speak up and be heard,” he said.

Bell said he is very progressive and has always been, so many of his beliefs follow that pattern. He supports more funding for education and a health care-for-all system.

He said he strongly supports gun control, a ban on military-style weapons, red flag laws and stronger background checks.

“I don’t think we need weapons of war on the streets,” he said. “So I’m taking a very strong stand on that. I always have. ... We can’t just keep standing idly by and hoping this problem is going to take care of itself, because it’s not.”

If Texas is to remain at the forefront as the energy capital of the country it needs to accept that climate change is a reality and there is something people can do about it, he said. It would be pretending to believe that the world will continue to exist using fossil fuels, he said.

At this time, candidates can only announce their intention to run for office. The first day for candidates to file for the 2020 primary election is Nov. 9 and the deadline for a candidate to file is 6 p.m. Dec. 9.

Jess Huff’s email address is jess.huff@lufkindailynews.com.