In a rally held in a sweltering tent outside his new campaign headquarters just blocks from his southwest Houston home, Bell said he sees the seat as "a golden opportunity to make progress toward the same goals I've worked for my entire career."
Bolstering public education and fighting vouchers, health care reform and ethics enforcement were the main issues cited by the former U.S. congressman and city councilman.
After losing the Texas governor's race, Bell --an attorney by professional -- joined the Washington, D.C., based firm of Patton Boggs as a lobbyist, and penned a weekly political column for the Examiner Newspaper Group. (That column has been put in hiatus.)
"Running for office this year was not in my plans," he told about 200 well-wishers. "But real leadership demands that you welcome opportunities to serve the public good even when it's not convenient or according to some schedule you set for yourself."