Congressional primary hinges on Sheboygan again

Glenn Grothman, left, and Joe Leibham
Glenn Grothman, left, and Joe Leibham (Wisconsin State Senate)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Counties submitted official tallies Tuesday that confirmed the results of two state legislative races likely to see recounts, but the outcome of a hotly contested primary for Wisconsin’s lone open congressional seat remained in doubt when Sheboygan County failed to submit its votes.

County boards of canvassers have until Friday to submit final election results to The Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin elections. But the GAB had asked them to submit results Tuesday for three primaries in which it anticipated recounts.

There are no automatic recounts in Wisconsin. Candidates must request them, and they can’t do that until boards of canvassers finalize the results. The goal was to expedite that work and begin recounts quickly, so the winners in each race could begin campaigning for the general election, GAB spokesman Reid Magney said.

In northwestern Wisconsin’s 87th Assembly District, Michael Bub, a former hand-held computer designer, said he would ask for a recount after the canvass confirmed he lost a four-way Republican primary to businessman and former Rusk County board member James Edming by only 17 votes.

The Republican victor will face Democrat Richard Pulcher in the general election for the seat now held by retiring Republican Rep. Mary Williams.

Ernie Wittwer, a former state Department of Transportation budget director, led Spring Green attorney Pat Bomhack by seven votes once official results were in for the Democratic primary in southwestern Wisconsin’s 17th Senate District. Unofficial results had given Wittwer only a two-vote lead.

Bomhack said he wanted to consult with county clerks and the GAB before deciding whether to request a recount.

The winner will face state Rep. Howard Marklein for the seat held by retiring Sen. Dale Schultz, a moderate who cast the lone GOP Senate vote against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s union law.

In the hard-fought 6th District Republican primary, state Sen. Glenn Grothman led state Sen. Joe Leibham by 214 votes in unofficial results. The two were the top finishers in a four-way primary for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Petri.

Ten of the 11 counties in the district submitted their canvass results Tuesday. Grothman gained five votes and Leibham lost four. But the one county still outstanding was Sheboygan, Leibham’s home base. Late results from Sheboygan County on election night raised uncertainty about what had initially appeared to be a decisive Grothman victory.

The GAB posted a note on its website late Tuesday, saying it did not anticipate receiving Sheboygan County canvass results that night.

The winner of the GOP primary is expected to have an advantage in the Republican-leaning district in the November general election. He will face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, and Libertarian Gus Fahrendorf.

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Associated Press writer Todd Richmond in Madison contributed to this report.

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