ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican state Rep. Jeff Howe of Rockville is the first candidate to enter the race for the Minnesota Senate seat being vacated by Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville.

Howe entered a race Tuesday that will determine control of the state Senate. Republicans lost their one-seat majority last week when Fischbach stepped down. As Senate president, she automatically became lieutenant governor after Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointed then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the U.S. Senate following Al Franken’s resignation.

The special election for Fischbach’s seat will be the only Minnesota Senate seat on the November ballot.

Her central Minnesota district is heavily Republican, and GOP leaders scoff at the notion that Democrats could win it. No Democrat has entered the race so far.

Howe was first elected to the House in 2012.

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