MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Stu Lourey has won a Democratic primary for an open state Senate seat.

Lourey eased past Michelle Lee Tuesday evening in unofficial returns for a special election in northern Minnesota.

The District 11 seat opened when Lourey’s father, Tony Lourey, was named state Human Services commissioner earlier this month.

Lourey moves on to face state Rep. Jason Rarick, a Republican from Pine City, and Legal Marijuana Now candidate John Birrenbach of Pine City in a Feb. 5 general election.

The stakes are high. Republicans hold just a two-seat edge in the Senate with the seat vacant.

The seat has been in Democratic-Farmer-Labor control for decades. While Lourey, a legislative aide to Sen. Tina Smith, has family ties to the seat, Lee had won party endorsement over the weekend. She is a former Duluth TV news anchor who ran for Congress in the 8th District last year.

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