Guest speaker and delegate Larry Hayes speaks about the importance of workers unions during a Democratic convention Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

BELTON — Despite the relatively low turnout March 4 — only 3,827 Bell County residents voted in the Democratic primary — the mood at this year’s Bell County Democratic Party county convention Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center was positive and upbeat.

Bill Rosenberg, committeeman for Senate District 24, said Bell County was in the process of slowly turning blue.

“It’s happening neighbor to neighbor,” Rosenberg said. He added that many voters who came of age after the 1994 election, which turned Texas red, don’t realize how much the state meant to the Democratic Party. “For years Texas was an ATM for the Democratic Party. ... And now we have out-of-state money flowing into the races.”

Marianne Miller, Bell County Democratic party county chairwoman, said Bell County isn’t as reliably red as some people think.

“Bell County is a purple county,” she said. She gestured to a precinct map from the 2012 presidential election that showed President Barack Obama carrying multiple precincts throughout the Killeen and Temple area.

“People don’t realize that we carried a lot of precincts in 2012 and were within a few points of carrying a lot more,” Miller said.

While the 63 delegates at the convention had a positive outlook, they also understand they are in for an uphill battle.

Miller said difficulties faced by modern candidates are readily apparent in the campaigns of Louie Minor and Diane Henson.

Minor is challenging incumbent John Carter to represent Texas’ 31st Congressional District, which stretches from Round Rock to north of Temple.

Henson is running for the position of Chief Justice of Texas’ Third Court of Appeals.

“The two main things that Louie Minor and Diane Henson face are fundraising and gerrymandering,” Miller said. “And Bell County is the picture of gerrymandering.”

Throughout the morning, convention delegates busied themselves with certifying the nominations of the 57 delegates who will attend the Texas Democratic Party state convention in Dallas on June 27-28.

“We can send 60 delegates, but we have three automatic delegates,” Miller said. She added that the automatic, or ex-officio, delegates included herself, Rosenberg and Laura Allen, the president-elect of State of Texas Democratic Women.

“All members of the State Democratic Executive Committee are also ex-officio delegates,” Rosenberg said.

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