Walz likely to be Hultgren's opponent in 14th District
After two days of delays due to a McHenry County vote-count meltdown, Gurnee school board member Jim Walz appears to have clinched the Democratic nomination for the 14th Congressional District seat held by Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren.
Walz was in a three-way race against Plainfield resident Jesse Maggitt and John Hosta of Spring Grove. Tallies showed Walz with 27,393 votes, Hosta with 24,662 and Maggitt with 12,169. The results are unofficial as the McHenry County clerk's office still must count provisional ballots.
"I think the quality of candidates drove the voter turnout and I feel positive about my campaign and message," Walz said. "I'm not running to be a politician, I'm running to be a representative."
Walz said a lot is at stake in the November election, including the balance of power in the U.S. House and Senate.
"In this particular election cycle, all bets are off," he said.
"I do think there is a good chance we will be able to overcome the Republican majority and do what we can to create jobs for the middle class. Republicans have failed in that respect. I would like to be part of the change that puts the middle class back on a solid footing."
Maggitt congratulated Walz and said 14th District Democrats must pivot to the general election.
"We need to unite the remainder of the Democratic Party and focus on November, and move ahead," Maggitt said.
The race could be an uphill one for the Democrats; Hultgren received more than 133,000 votes in 2014.
Walz is a Warren Township High School District 121 board member. He is an outside sales representative for a regional snacks and candy wholesaler.
Hultgren of Plano was elected as congressman in 2011. Previously, he was a DuPage County Board member and state representative and senator. He has a law degree.
McHenry County's ballot-counting problems started Tuesday morning when judges couldn't review voter data at 12 polling locations. The technical issues were so severe, a judge extended voting hours by 90 minutes. The county finally posted results from all precincts Thursday.