Paul Novotny won a special primary election for a state House seat in a central Minnesota district on Tuesday night, drawing more than 85% of the vote against a fellow Republican challenger.

Novotny, a Sherburne County Sheriff's Office sergeant endorsed by the state Republican Party, defeated former Air Force officer Kathy Ziebarth in the contest for House District 30A, which spans from Elk River west to Big Lake.

He will face Democrat Chad Hobot in a Feb. 4 special election to decide who will replace former Republican state Rep. Nick Zerwas.

"I'm happy with the results. … It's very humbling," Novotny said.

The district is widely seen as a lock for Republicans.

Novotny is a 30-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office. He has held several posts there — from investigative sergeant to firearms instructor — and will retire from law enforcement in May.

"Paul's career in law enforcement and years of community involvement have prepared him to excel as a legislator and continue his service to constituents in Sherburne County," House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said in a statement Tuesday night.

Ziebarth was a small-business owner who volunteered with school board committees and youth performing arts organizations in the district area. She addressed health care issues at the legislative level as chairwoman of the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists' government relations committee.

Zerwas, a four-term lawmaker from Elk River, resigned from his seat last month, citing a desire to spend time with his family and pursue private sector work following a recent surgery for a lifelong heart condition. He was a prominent voice on a number of high-profile issues at the Capitol, from reforming the state's use of solitary confinement to calling for accountability and change in Human Services programs.