The Brown County Democratic Party held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday evening at its new headquarters at 304 West Commerce Street.
    The Brownwood and Early chambers of commerce were on hand to help facilitate the opening that included refreshments, campaign literature, voter registration and not one but two life-size cardboard cutouts of Hillary Clinton.
    As attendees milled about sipping from water bottles with labels reading “No Trump,” party chairman Mike Bullard greeted guests and shook hands. He said the party had received a surprising outpouring of support in its new, prominent location.
    “We were shocked that so many people were showing up and stopping by the last few days when we were painting and everything,” Bullard said. “Some die-hard Republicans stopped … and said they’re going to vote for [Clinton] because they just can’t stand Trump.”
    Bullard acknowledged the difficulties facing his party in Brown County but remained optimistic about the race.
    “I think there’s going to be a lot of people that go behind the curtain and vote the other way, just because of the candidate,” he said.
    Dawson Hicks attended the ceremony on behalf of Jennie Lou Leeder, the Democratic candidate for Texas Senate District 24. Leeder is the first Democrat to contest the office since 1996. Hicks said Leeder was a moderate Democrat with deep Texas ties.
    “She’s somebody that everybody can relate to,” Hicks said. “She’s pro-Second Amendment … She’s interested in water rights. She wants to keep the farmers able to afford to farm. [The Leeders] have land and a ranch. She stands up for everybody.”
    3M employee Otto Sonnenberg has been helping the Democratic Party prepare its new facility. He said it was gratifying for the group to have such a visible location.
    “The whole group has been working so hard to get this opened up,” he said. “The location is perfect. I think it’s going to help give us an opportunity to reach out and contact those people that have voted Democratic in the past, and make sure they get out and vote this year. Brown County is typically a very strong Red county, but we want to make our mark.”
    Sonnenberg said though there was little evidence of Democratic support in the Brownwood area, the statewide vote could prove closer than usual. For his part, Bullard said the Democratic Party would make the race competitive because of the Republican nominee.
    “I think deep down in their guts, they know he’s nuts,” he joked.
    The Democratic Party headquarters will be open with yard signs, campaign literature and information each Monday through Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. through Election Day.