ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has endorsed fellow Republican Jeff Johnson for Minnesota governor.

Johnson announced the senator’s endorsement Tuesday. The Hennepin county Commissioner and 2014 Republican nominee for governor chaired Rubio’s presidential campaign in Minnesota last year.

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It’s an early endorsement that could carry some weight among Minnesota Republicans ahead of a battle for the GOP endorsement. Rubio won Minnesota’s Republican presidential caucuses.

And it signals some national attention on the race for Minnesota’s open gubernatorial seat in 2018 after President Donald Trump nearly won the state in 2016.

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Rubio says Johnson can help Republicans break through in statewide races in Minnesota. No GOP candidates have won a statewide election since 2006.

Johnson is one of five major Republican candidates in a field that is expected to grow.

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