ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Incoming Gov. Tim Walz's appointment of a Democratic senator to his administration gives Republicans some temporary breathing space in the chamber.

Walz named Tony Lourey on Thursday to head the Department of Human Services. Lourey's departure from the Senate doubles the GOP advantage to all of two seats for the moment.

Democrats hold the House in addition to Walz's governorship. Walz has called a special election Feb. 5 to fill Lourey's seat in the district that sprawls southwest of Duluth toward Mille Lacs Lake.