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A recount has put a controversial state senator’s victory in a Wisconsin congressional primary into question, according to a Milwaukee newspaper.

The Associated Press called the race for state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) on Tuesday night, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports a recount in Sheboygan County has now narrowed his lead to just 215 votes, at 23,241 to 23,026.

Another state senator, Joe Leibham, is in second place.

“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’ selection,” the Leibham campaign told the paper.

The general election will determine who replaces retiring Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.). Controversy around Grothman could open the door for Democrats to compete in the district this fall, if he pulls out the primary win.

Grothman would face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris (D), who was unopposed in his primary.

Grothman’s unbending conservatism, especially on social issues, could hurt his chances in the Republican-leaning district north of Milwaukee. President Obama narrowly won the district in 2008 but lost it by 7 percentage points in 2012.

Democrats were already gleefully circulating some of his more controversial views and comments.

Grothman recently said it was “unbelievable” that Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Uganda’s harsh anti-gay laws, and has repeatedly called homosexuality a “sin,” saying it “should not flourish” in American society. He’s also attacked what he’s called the “war on men” during a 2010 Tea Party rally, has said that “money is more important for men” as part of explaining why he opposed equal pay legislation, and has sponsored legislation that said that single parenting is a contributing factor to child abuse.

National Republican strategists concede that Grothman’s tendency towards controversy could put the seat at risk.

One warned that he could be a “ticking time bomb.”

“Republicans will need to pay attention to this race now,” the strategist said.

Peter Sullivan contributed to this report, which was originally published at 12:04 a.m. and last updated at 7:44 a.m.

Tags John Kerry Tom Petri

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