Last Tuesday, Feb. 4, citizens from all over Fillmore County gathered for their local caucuses. As 2014 marks national, state and local elections, congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial positions are again up for election or reelection.

Overall, the Republican caucuses were well attended, though since it is not a presidential election, attendance was lower than two years ago, reported Doug Baker, chairman of the Fillmore County Republicans. In his opinion, the caucuses went fantastically well.

Baker added the straw poll dominated the caucuses last Tuesday night. Along with the poll, the most discussion concerned the lack of jobs in today's world and the implementation of Obamacare.

This year there are several candidates running for governor, Senate and the First Congressional District in the Republican Party. In the straw polls, Marty Seifert defeated Dave Thomas in running for governor by two percentage points statewide, though in Fillmore County, Dave Thomas won. Julian Ortman came out on top of the statewide poll for Senate and Aaron Miller won for the First Congressional District.

In this upcoming campaign season, Baker sees it as excellent opportunity for the Republicans, from the district level to the state level.

Though the state holds the caucuses every two years, their importance is sometimes uncertain. Baker described them as a lot of paperwork. Winning a straw poll does not mean the person has the endorsement, though it may show the preference.

"In either party, you go to the convention and you do not get an endorsement. You have to go to the primary election for that," Baker stated.

For the Democratic Party, Dennis DeKeyrel, Fillmore County's Democratic chairman, believes the caucuses went as well as expected since they hold all of the state constitutional and congressional offices that are up for election this year.

"In presidential years such as 2008 when there is more than one strong candidate for the endorsement, we usually get a strong turnout for the preference vote," he stated.

Still, they would always like more people to attend as an act of personal participation in the political process.

Since the Democratic incumbents will once again be seeking their office this year, there are no new people running for any of those seats, with the exception of that of the secretary of state office.

DeKeyrel thinks the incumbents are all in strong positions and feels the party has two strong candidates for the endorsement to run for the Minnesota House seat. Because there was no need for a poll for the Democrats, most of their discussion fell on frac sand mining regulations and how to support and improve MnSure.

In regards to the importance of the caucuses, DeKeyrel understands caucuses to be important when there are large differences on issues. "Decisions will be made by those who are delegated to the conventions where those issues are resolved," he asserted.

Caucuses also are where resolutions call for party action.

They give a sense of the dominant concerns of the most active members of the party.