Republican Nathan Nelson won the special election Tuesday to fill a vacant east-central Minnesota state House seat.

Nelson led Democrat Tim Burkhardt 68 percent to 32 percent with 87 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night for the House District 11B seat.

Nelson, a farmer from Clover Township near Hinckley, Minn., and president of the Pine County Farm Bureau, will fill the seat opened up by former Rep. Jason Rarick's February election to the state Senate. Rarick, a Republican from Pine City, replaced Democrat Tony Lourey, who left the Senate to become Gov. Tim Walz's Human Services commissioner.

That Senate race attracted heavy spending, as both parties and outside groups battled for the swing district. Rarick's win expanded the GOP's narrow margin in the upper chamber.

Tuesday's race for the state House seat saw less action. Republicans had won the district, which covers most of Pine County and part of Kanabec County, by wide margins in recent elections.

The vote marked local residents' fourth special election in three months. Crowded candidate fields triggered primaries on at least one side in both the House and Senate races.