DES MOINES, Iowa — The Polk County Steak Fry acts as an unofficial gauge for how Iowa’s Democratic Party is doing every year. This year, political candidates at the Steak Fry have hope that Democrats will perform well in the upcoming midterm elections.

Hundreds of likely voters flocked to Water Works Park to hear from this year’s crop of candidates Saturday afternoon.

“Freedom is on the ballot, and I am sure that freedom is going to ring in this state again,” said Diedre DeJear, the Democratic nominee for governor, in her speech to the Steak Fry crowd. “I see you, I understand your concerns, and our ticket up and down the ballot is committed.”

“Democrats in the state of Iowa, let’s regain the glory of yesteryear for a progressive state,” said Michael Franken, who is the Democratic nominee against longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley, in his Steak Fry address. “It’s about education, healthcare, elder care, the environment, union labor, fair wages, human dignity, and civil affairs.”

The candidates also talked to voters one-on-one and shared what they believe the most important issues are as the midterm election approaches.

“The issue that’s bringing everyone together, if you look at Venn diagram of age, urban, rural, suburban, everything…it’s education,” DeJear said. “Our young people are even talking about it. I was talking to a girl who was seven-years-old and I said, ‘What issue matters to you?’ She said, ‘I want my schools to do better.'”

“Healthcare will continue to always be an issue for Iowans,” said Rep. Cindy Axne, who is running for re-election in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district. “I’m so pleased to say we were finally able to negotiate prescription prices for those on Medicare and bring those prices down, starting with insulin.”

“We need to ensure that the future of agriculture is secure in the state of Iowa,” Franken said. “There’s also education, healthcare, and elder care, which seldom gets a lot of lip service.”

Election Day is on Tuesday, November 8.