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Republican caucuses aim to make changes from the bottom up.

Members of the Crow Wing County Republican Party who attended caucuses Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Crosslake precinct site agreed they were there to influence politics at a grassroots level.

Likewise, those who attended the Cass County Republican caucuses in the Pine River-Backus School commons saw the caucuses as an opportunity to influence government locally.

“This is where government starts. If you don’t get people involved at this level then there’s no involvement higher up the food chain as you go. That’s why I think it’s important to be here,” said Nancy Evans, convener at the caucus at PR-B School.

Around 15 people attended the GOP caucuses at Crosslake Community School, a showing that was down from two years ago. Crow Wing Republican precincts met at several other sites in the county as well.

Crow Wing County Republican Party Chair Joshua Heintzeman said the low turnout was most likely because there’s no presidential election this year, as there was in 2012. He said caucuses give people a say in the political process.

“Obviously, it’s grassroots,” Heintzeman said. “This should be where the power is and where decisions are being made.”

Before a straw poll was conducted, members of the party attending the Crosslake caucuses spoke for candidates they believe in. Allen Benson spoke for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Thompson, a state senator from Lakeville.

Benson said Thompson’s running mate, Sen. Michelle Benson from Ham Lake, is his daughter-in-law, and commented that Thompson has his values in the right place.

Allen Benson was the only person from Fifty Lakes attending the caucuses. He, too, said caucuses are the grassroots place to make a change.

“If you really want to get involved, come to the caucus. It’s where it starts. It can make a difference in the future,” he said, noting he votes in every election.

Scott Gannaway was the only person to attend the caucuses from the city of Emily.

“It’s part of my civic duty, just like I vote at every election. You’ve got to be a part of the process,” he said as his reason for attending.

Marlys Mongan was one of six people who attended the Crosslake caucuses from Fairfield Township.

“This is the day that voters have the chance to give some input on a grassroots level,” she said.

Before conducting a straw poll at PR-B School, Evans read letters from many of the candidates to the 28 participants from various precints. There were other Cass County Republican caucus locations with a total of 99 participants representing 29 precints.

Travis Grimler can be reached at Follow him on Facebook.