Election 2024: Fewer than 50 votes separate McHenry County Board candidates; race still too close to call

GOP primary between Eric Hendricks and Bob Nowak could hinge on remaining mail-in ballots

The candidates for District 3 in the McHenry County Board Republican primary include Robert "Bob" Nowak (left) and incumbent Eric Hendricks.

Remaining mail-in ballots could determine the outcome of the Republican primary for the McHenry County Board’s District 3, although the candidate who’s trailing doesn’t expect it will make up the difference.

Less than 50 votes separate incumbent Eric Hendricks of Lake in the Hills and former board member Robert “Bob” Nowak of Algonquin. Hendricks is ahead in unofficial totals after ballots were counted Tuesday.

McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said the next update on votes will be after they’re canvassed April 8. Tirio said low turnout was a big reason the clerk’s office isn’t likely to give periodic updates as votes come in, since there is a potential to publicize someone’s vote.

Mail-in ballots must have been postmarked by Tuesday and be in by April 2 to count.

Reached Wednesday, Nowak said the race is “pretty close” but that it would be “surprising” if mail-in ballots that come in over the next couple of weeks change the trajectory of the race.

“I would be surprised and thrilled,” Nowak said about whether the outstanding mail-in ballots could flip the election his way.

He said both he and Hendricks did “a lot of campaigning” over the course of the primary race.

“I gave it my best shot,” Nowak said.

Hendricks was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

The ultimate outcome will be determined in the general election Nov. 5. No Democratic candidate appeared on Tuesday’s ballot for District 3, although a write-in campaign was mounted by Rester Dogboe.

District 3 covers parts of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake, Lakewood and a splash of Huntley. The race was one of two contested primaries for County Board and the only one featuring an incumbent.

In District 7, the other contested primary, voters chose Paul Thomas of Wonder Lake as their Republican nominee against Democratic incumbent Louisett “Lou” Ness, who ran unopposed in her primary Tuesday.

The District 3 race is a rematch from 2022, when Nowak was the incumbent on the board and Hendricks the challenger.

Hendricks and Democrat Carolyn Campbell of Crystal Lake were the top two vote-getters in the 2022 election, and Hendricks was elected to a two-year term. This cycle, Hendricks made an unsuccessful attempt to knock Nowak off the ballot over a typo in the word “Republican” in Nowak’s nominating petitions.

Hendricks had received the McHenry County Republican endorsement for the seat, and McHenry County Republican Party Chair Jeff Thorsen said Wednesday that Hendricks has been doing a “stellar job” on the board.