ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN)— Republicans flipped the open seat in a contentious special election Tuesday evening, broadening their narrow control over the state Senate.
In a tight race, Jason Rarick gained enough votes to take a seat in Minnesota Senate District 11, a southwest area of Duluth near Lake Superior. Rarick, who was re-elected to a third term in the state House, beat Democrat candidate Stu Lourey and Legal Marijuana Now candidate John Birrenbach.
The special election was called after the newly elected Democratic Gov. Tim Walz appointed Tony Lourey—Stu Lourey’s father—to be his human services commissioner.
15,623 ballots from 103 precincts were counted on Tuesday. The race ended with Rarick leading with 52 percent of the votes compared to Lourey’s 46 percent.
The result of the election is significant because it will give Republicans the upper-hand in the state Senate where they currently hold a one-seat majority. With Rarick’s victory, Republicans now hold a two-seat majority, which could strain the Democrats in the state House and their ability to pass through their proposals.
Stu Lourey worked as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Tina Smith and her predecessor Al Franken. His father held the seat since 2007 and his grandmother, Becky Lourey, held it from 1997 to 2007.
District 11, which includes precincts in Carlton and Pine counties and areas of St. Louis and Kanabec counties, has historically leaned Democratic. President Donald Trump won the district by 13 points in the 2016 presidential election.
The Republican Party of Minnesota released a statement to Fox 9 News following the results:
“Today, Minnesotans voted for the candidate who would best represent them and it is no surprise Jason Rarick came out on top. Throughout his time in the Minnesota House, Rep. Rarick has stood up for blue-collar workers, common-sense regulations and middle-class Minnesota families. He has the life experience and legislative record necessary to serve Senate District 11 well and we look forward to the many accomplishments in his future.”