Bianca Virnig, a school board member and education activist, won a special DFL primary election for a state House seat in the Twin Cities' southern suburbs Thursday night, defeating three other challengers in the district.

Virnig drew more than 39% of the vote, defeating Mendota Heights City Council Member Jay Miller, former DFL legislative aide Cynthia Callais and local DFL organizer Chris Whitfield.

Virnig will advance to a Dec. 5 special election, where she will face Republican Cynthia Lonnquist and Libertarian candidate Charles Kuchlenz.

The winner of that contest will fill the seat held since 2018 by Ruth Richardson, a Democrat who resigned in September citing the demands of her new job as CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States.

The House district includes the cities of Eagan, Mendota Heights and Mendota.

"I believe in a strong government that cares for the people, a community that protects our most vulnerable, and I ran a campaign that centered my priorities around a health care system [that] works for everyone, reproductive freedom, addressing the very real impact of climate change and caring for our children and their education from birth through higher ed," Virnig wrote on Instagram on Thursday morning.

Virnig, who lives in Eagan, has served on the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school board since 2021 and works for the parent-teacher organization at Deerwood Elementary School in the district. She's also director of health and safety at BrightWorks, an education nonprofit, and an alum of the Humphrey Policy Fellow program at the University of Minnesota.

"Bianca Virnig has devoted her career to giving back to our public schools and the families they serve," DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said in a statement Thursday night. "We never take any special election outcome for granted, and we will leave nothing on the table as we work to elect Bianca as Minnesota's newest state legislator."

Richardson was re-elected last fall with nearly 62% of the vote. Before her resignation, the DFL controlled the House 70-64. With her resignation, the DFL caucus drops to 69 members.

The winner of the special election will be seated when the Legislature convenes in February.