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Special election date finalized; voice of Timberwolves enters race

RED WING -- The special election to decide who will replace Rep. Steve Sviggum in the Minnesota House will be Aug. 7.

A document filed Thursday with the Secretary of State's Office also confirmed that, if necessary, primary elections in the District 28B race will be held July 24.

That news was followed by the third person -- and a familiar voice to many Minnesota sports fans -- to seek the endorsement of the local Republican Party.

Rod Johnson, the public address announcer for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx, said he had been considering a run at the seat for some time, but wanted to wait until Sviggum, R-Kenyon, left office.

"Steve has done a tremendous job in representing District 28B, and I would cherish the opportunity to carry on that tradition of service," Johnson said in a press release.

Johnson, a rural Cannon Falls resident and co-owner of an auctioneer business, said he aims to bring a straight-forward approach to the Legislature.

"Sometimes I see common sense going out the window," the former Cannon Falls School Board member said in an interview.

Johnson said that, if elected, he would be a watchdog on tax issues and education.

He joins Steve Drazkowski and Jennifer Berquam as candidates seeking the GOP endorsement. Drazkowski challenged Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, in the 2006 election; the short campaign will be Berquam's first.

Democrat Jeffrey Flaten of Kenyon announced his candidacy earlier this month.

Filing for the seat begins today and will run through July 10.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty needs to fill the seat through a special election prior to the next legislative session or before convening a special session, which he hasn't ruled out.

Pawlenty's office announced Tuesday that Sviggum will leave the Legislature after 29 years to become the next commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry. The 15-term lawmaker begins his new job