Three candidates — two Republicans and one Democrat — are running in an upcoming special election for an open east-central Minnesota state House seat.

Democrat Tim Burkhardt and Republicans Ayrlahn Johnson and Nathan Nelson filed for House District 11B as of Wednesday’s deadline for finalizing the candidate field.

The seat opened up after Rep. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, won election to a vacant state Senate seat in early February.

Nelson and Johnson will compete in a March 5 special primary for the GOP nomination ahead of the March 19 general election. Nelson, a farmer from Hinckley, has the Republican Party endorsement.

Democrats endorsed Burkhardt, a Hinckley City Council member who ran against Rarick for the seat in 2018, earlier this week. As the sole candidate for his party, Burkhardt does not have to compete in a primary.

Voters in the region were inundated with door-knockers, campaign ads and calls ahead of the recent state Senate special election, as both sides jockeyed for the seat. Outside groups spent heavily to influence the outcome given the political stakes at the Capitol.

Rarick’s win gave the GOP an added edge in the state Senate, where the party now holds a 35-32 advantage.

Outside interest in this latest race is not expected to be as high. Recent elections show Republicans have a solid advantage for the seat, which Rarick won by wide margins in his past three races.

The district covers much of Pine County and parts of Kanabec County.