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Three’s company! Third Republican enters race for Petri’s seat in Congress

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MADISON (WITI) -- A third Republican candidate has entered the race for Congress. All three are vying for the seat vacated by Tom Petri -- who recently announced his retirement. The race appears to be wide open, as three state lawmakers jockey for votes and for the nomination.

Standing on the front lawn of his parent's home in Sheboygan, Joe Liebham announced his candidacy.

"Today, I proudly announce my candidacy for Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District, with the goal of earning the opportunity to serve as your representative and your reformer in Congress," Liebham said.

The 44-year-old state senator will run as a "reformer" largely on his experience in the Wisconsin Senate during the contentious labor fight of 2011.

"I was on the front line with Governor Walker as we went about an effort to boldly reform our state," Liebham said.

Petri has held the 6th Congressional District seat since 1979. He announced his retirement earlier this month.

"No time is perfect, but this was a pretty good time," Petri said.

The 6th Congressional District stretches across 11 counties -- including Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Sheboygan.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman rattled the race when he announced his candidacy.

"There are big problems in Washington and it seems there are not enough people there to shake things up. I'm not somebody who waited for Congressman Petri to try to leave. I felt Congressman Petri was part of the problem, which is why I got in when I did," Grothman said.

State Rep. Duey Stroebel authored one of the last legislative session's most controversial bills, limiting early voting.

"On Election Day, it's standardized. We know when it starts, we know when it ends," Stroebel said.

Stroebel calls himself a "citizen legislator."

In a statement to FOX6 News, he says of Liebham and Grothman: "They've spent decades in government and I don't think conservatives should trade one career politician for another. Congress needs an outsider's perspective."

All of the candidates have conservative credentials, and Liebham suggested it may come down to the politics of personality.

"Through my personality, I was respectful of people and let them know I was interested in their thoughts," Liebham said.

"I think I get along with people. I think Joe's a very nice person. His parents are wonderful, his siblings are wonderful, but I don't think Joe has been as much of a fighter. You can be nice and a fighter at the same time," Grothman said.

So far, one Democrat has announced his candidacy -- Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris.

For now, all of the action is on the Republican side -- and some insiders believe there could be two or three other people mulling bids for the seat.

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