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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tim Walz earned enough votes to be declared the winner of the Democratic primary for Minnesota’s governor in a fairly tight three-way race.

Walz leveraged his rural Minnesota connections and a geographically balanced ticket to defeat state Rep. Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson in Tuesday’s primary. Walz is leaving Congress after six terms representing southwestern Minnesota.

WEB EXTRA: WCCO Election Guide 2018

Murphy received the party’s endorsement earlier this summer, but polls leading into Tuesday’s primary showed her trailing third behind Attorney General Swanson and Rep. Tim Walz. She ended up finishing second.

Walz’s outstate appeal and pedigree as a former teacher and a National Guard veteran had long made him a favorite among Democrats trying to hang on to the office as two-term Gov. Mark Dayton retires.

The Secretary of State’s office said as of last week, early voting was up nearly 200 percent from the 2016 general election.

Click here for the full election results.