ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republicans have chosen a central Minnesota lawmaker to serve as Senate majority leader.

Sen. Paul Gazelka will replace Majority Leader Tom Bakk as the GOP eyes a takeover of the Senate.

Gazelka is a third-term senator from Nisswa with roots in Minnesota's Iron Range. His selection reflects the rural gains Republicans made to take control from Democrats.

Gazelka will join Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Gov. Mark Dayton at the negotiating table as the most powerful trio in Minnesota politics.

Republicans flipped eight seats to retake control of the chamber, though that hinges on automatic recounts confirming the outcomes of two races currently in their favor. Sen. David Hann had been the top Republican in the Senate, but he lost his re-election bid Tuesday.