AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former U.S. Congressman Chris Bell has turned his sights towards the U.S. Senate. In a crowded primary field where name recognition will be important, Bell is the Democratic candidate most voters have heard of, according to a University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll.
Bell said one of the main reasons he’s running is because he can’t stand the direction the country is headed, so he wants to take it back.
“I think in order to accomplish that it’s going to take individuals with experience to run against John Cornyn and be able to take him down,” Bell said. “I think Texas deserves better leadership.”
Texas ranks as one of the worst states in healthcare. Bell supports Medicare for all, but he said he still wants Texans to have the option to choose their insurance company.
“But for others who have really found this whole system to be a nightmare, I do think they should have the ability to buy into a public option,” Bell said.
When it comes to paying for Medicare for all, Bell said it depends on where the economy is, but he believes President Donald Trump’s tax plans have been a disaster.
“I think there are a lot of other ways to increase revenue for the United States,” Bell said. “Whether we’re going to have to look at some kind of wealth tax to have wealthier individuals pay their fair share, I think all of those things are going to be on the table.”
Bell is also a supporter of stricter gun laws. He said he supports universal background checks, red flag laws and a mandatory buyback program.
“I think people should be compensated for those weapons because they bought them lawfully, but we don’t need weapons of war in the hands of citizens,” Bell said.
DACA recently went before the Supreme Court, and Bell said the U.S. needs to pass legislation as soon as possible to protect Dreamers.
Bell also said when it comes to the border, he wants to immediately turn around policies put in place by President Trump and supported by incumbent Cornyn.
“You know the detention camps have been a nightmare,” Bell said. “I can’t believe that we’ve risen to that level of cruelty here in the United States.”
Environmental issues are one of Bell’s top priorities. He said Texas in a perfect position to continue to be the energy capital of the world, but he understands oil and gas companies aren’t going away.
“I think finally John Cornyn may be waking up to the fact that there is climate change, that the science is real and we can’t keep sticking our heads in the sand,” Bell said.
While Cornyn’s disapproval ratings have been climbing, Bell said he knows Cornyn won’t be a push over, so the key factor is experience.
“I think it’s going to take somebody with Congressional experience who’s run statewide before to take him on and take him down,” Bell said.