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Republican Bryan Lawrence won Tuesday's special election to fill the empty Minnesota House seat left by former Rep. Kurt Daudt, who stepped down in February midway through his term.

With all of the ballots counted on Tuesday night, Lawrence won by a large margin in House District 27B, with 84.5% of the vote, and 15.4% for his DFL opponent, Brad Brown. There were 1,752 votes for Lawrence and 319 for Brown.

The district includes parts of Sherburne, Isanti, Mille Lacs and Anoka counties.

"It's exciting; there's a tremendous amount of responsibility that goes along with accepting this role," Lawrence said following the first round of results.

In a phone call earlier Tuesday, Lawrence said his primary goal is to represent the interests of his district and have a focus on education and "ensuring the choice" for education, whether it be homeschooling or public or private school. He said he's also passionate about protecting the Second Amendment and that he opposes abortion.

Lawrence, 53, criticized the DFL on his campaign website, saying its control of state government has led to "erosion of our central Minnesota way of life," and that he will "aggressively defend the conservative values that made our country the best in the world."

Lawrence currently serves as a supervisor for Baldwin Township and co-manages a family farming business.

Brown, a 74-year-old retired diesel mechanic, unsuccessfully challenged Daudt for his House seat in three straight general elections between 2018 and 2022. Brown congratulated Lawrence on Tuesday night.

"I hope he has continuity and does a good job in the House," Brown said.

Daudt, 50, left partway through his two-year term. He announced his resignation in January, before stepping down on Feb. 11, a day before the start of the 2024 legislative session. He did not provide a reason for leaving . Daudt served as speaker from 2015 to 2019 and led the largest Republican majority in more than a decade during his tenure. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2010.

In 2019 Daudt took a part-time job as director of public affairs for the Virginia-based government relations firm Stateside Associates. The move sparked criticism from Democrats at the time, who saw Daudt's new role as creating a conflict of interest. Daudt pushed back, saying that his work does not include lobbying or issues related to Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Daudt said in a phone call that the firm approached him about going full-time before his departure from state government. After leaving, Daudt was promoted to Stateside's vice presidency. Daudt said he also felt like it was the right time to leave state government.

"I think I was ready; I didn't totally feel like my talents were being fully utilized not being in a leadership position," Daudt said.

Daudt said being a legislator also took a financial toll on him and required him to make personal sacrifices.

"I think people don't always realize the personal and financial sacrifices that people make," he said. "I have missed what should have been some of the best earning years of my life, and so I really need to make up for lost time."

He said he plans to devote more time to being with with family and friends, and that he still lives in the district.