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MONTICELLO, Minn. -- Tom Emmer has won the Republican endorsement in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's 6th District.

The former state Representative received 76 percent of the vote at the GOP convention in Monticello Saturday.

Emmer, who narrowly lost to Mark Dayton in the gubernatorial race in 2012, says the endorsement is crucial to winning the primary.

"I think the Republican endorsement still means something, especially in the 6th congressional district," he said. "This is the highest concentration of Republican voters in the state."

Emmer's two GOP rivals in the race, Anoka County Board chair Rhonda Sivarajah and former state Representative Phil Krinkie, have both announced primary campaigns. Emmer was the only candidate who promised to abide by the GOP endorsement.

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