BLOOMINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Republicans have elected former state representative Keith Downey as their new chairman.

The party's central committee met Saturday in Bloomington. Downey won the chairman's race on the first ballot over challengers Bill Paulsen, Bonn Clayton and Don Allen.

Downey represented Edina in the state House from 2008 to 2012. He lost a state Senate race against a Democratic challenger in 2012.

Downey takes over a party that's still struggling financially and politically. The party remains in debt to the tune of about $1.6 million after problems with financial mismanagement under a previous chairman. And Republicans haven't won a statewide race in Minnesota since former Governor Tim Pawlenty was narrowly reelected in 2006.