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Recount likely in Wisconsin congressional primary

  • Article by: M.L. JOHNSON
  • Associated Press
  • August 13, 2014 - 1:45 PM

MADISON, Wis. — A recount appeared likely Wednesday in the Republican primary for Wisconsin's lone open congressional seat, where unofficial results showed just 214 votes separating two state senators.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman led state Sen. Joe Leibham by just three-tenths of a percentage point, and 1,500 absentee ballots were outstanding, but it wasn't clear how many of those had been returned or were Republican ballots. They could be counted if postmarked in time.

Wisconsin law allows candidates in such races as the congressional primary to request a free recount if the difference is one-half of a percentage point or less. They cannot officially make that request, however, until boards of canvassers in every county in their district have finalized the results. The boards have until Aug. 22 to do that.

Leibham did not say whether he planned to seek a recount.

"Out of respect to the voters of the 6th Congressional District, I believe we need to allow the election officials to finish counting and double-checking all of the votes cast in Tuesday's election," he said in a statement.

The four-way contest for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Petri was the hottest primary in the state Tuesday, with state Rep. Duey Stroebel pouring nearly $700,000 of his own money into the race and all three leading candidates airing ads and striving to connect with voters in person. Retired technical college instructor Tom Denow ran a quiet campaign and finished a distant fourth.

The winner of the primary will go into the general election with an advantage in the Republican-leaning district. He will face Winnebago County executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, and Libertarian Gus Fahrendorf in November.

Grothman and Leibham agree on most issues important to conservatives, but have distinctly different styles. The genial Leibham emphasizes his ability to get along amid disagreement, while Grothman has made a name for himself through outspoken attacks on affirmative action, welfare benefits and early sex education.

Grothman said he hopes Leibham will not request a recount.

"It would certainly be easier to get on right away with the campaign for November, but we'll just have to see," he told WTMJ-AM.

Leibham won his state Senate seat in 2002 after a recount showed he had 46 more votes than incumbent Jim Baumgart.

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