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State Sen. Glenn Grothman will challenge fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Petri of Fond du Lac in a primary for the seat Petri has held since 1979.

Grothman, R-West Bend, said in a statement Thursday he would challenge Petri, who he called a “decent, genial person” but someone who does not have the “sense of urgency” to stop the growth of the federal government in both entitlements and government spending.

“While there are more things to do in Madison, again and again many of the problems require changes in federal law,” Grothman said. “Whether it be welfare reform, education reform, or fiscal responsibility, we need changes from Washington. The next six years will determine the fate of America. Congress and the nation are at a turning point, and we need a leader that will put America back on the right path.”

Petri countered in a statement sent to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he’d prevail.

 “My record of pragmatic conservatism will speak for itself,” Petri said. “I respect Glenn and the work he’s done at the state level. I will run a strong campaign and I expect to win in August and November.”