Updated: 02/04/2014 10:43 PM
Created: 02/04/2014 10:38 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Hundreds turned out to their political party caucuses in Duluth Tuesday night. Helping define the party stance on big issues like mining and the minimum wage was second only to excitement about candidates in the race for the Minnesota House 7A seat.
Nearly 300 turned out to East High School for the DFL party caucus. It was a familiar place for the man who has represented District 7A for almost 22 years in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
“My wife dragged me to the first in 1974,” Rep. Tom Huntley said.
Huntley said the caucus experience drew him into politics. It could do the same for East senior Erik Thibault. Tuesday marked his first time to a caucus.
“It's definitely more personal and a way to get your opinion known to your representatives and elected officials,” Thibault said.
Giving direction to the party was important to both party members, but Huntley will not seek re-election. He said that leaves many fighting for his seat.
“You know, we've got four good candidates running to replace me. They're all very good. They all have their crews here and people seem excited,” Huntley said.
The DFL candidates include Gary Anderson, Pete Johnson, Linda Krug, and Jennifer Shultz.
The excitement was not limited to Democrats. Just over a mile away at Ordean-East Middle School 80 Republicans gathered to hear from their candidates. The Republican candidates for the Minnesota House 7A seat include Donna Bergstrom and Becky Hall.
Pat Mest is the republican co-chair for 7A. She said anything can happen with Huntley stepping down.
“Then you have an open race and it draws many newcomers to the field and things pick up and it gets very exciting,” Mest said. “It's going to be a charged election year and it's going to be very interesting to watch it unfold.”
The caucuses were just the first step in that exciting battle. Candidates will have just months to fight for a party endorsement.
There were also many decisions to make on a range of political issues. Mining was a hot topic for both parties at the caucuses, and members also discussed the state's minimum wage.
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