The son of former state Sen. Tony Lourey, D-Kerrick, won the DFL primary to replace his father in an east-central Minnesota state Senate seat Tuesday.

Stu Lourey defeated former Duluth news anchor Michelle Lee in the Tuesday primary, 53 percent to 47 percent. Lourey, a former legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, will face Rep. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, and Legal Marijuana Now candidate John Birrenbach, also of Pine City, in a Feb. 5 special election for the open seat.

The seat, which opened up when DFL Gov. Tim Walz appointed Tony Lourey as his Human Services commissioner, is a top target for both parties given Republicans' narrow 34-32 majority in the state Senate.

The district, which includes all of Pine and parts of Carlton, Kanabec and St. Louis counties, is considered competitive. While the DFL has held the Senate seat for decades, President Donald Trump won handily in the district in 2016.

"It could go either way," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said earlier this month.

The final lineup for the Feb. 5 ballot features two well-known names in the region. Rarick has represented half the district in the state House since 2015, while Lourey hails from a prominent political family. Stu Lourey's grandmother, Becky Lourey, preceded his father as a state senator serving the district.

Campaign cash and ads are already flowing, as candidates and their surrogates spend weekends knocking on voters' doors in frigid temperatures.

Outside groups are also expected to spend heavily on the race.

Torey Van Oot • 612-673-7299