Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

John Conyers Does Not Qualify for Primary Ballot

Conyers will not appear on the primary ballot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:14 p.m. | Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. failed to qualify for the Michigan 13th District primary ballot, a local county clerk ruled Tuesday.

“Seeing that I do not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of laws and statutes, that the County Clerks are bound by, it is my determination that in accordance with the current laws and statutes of the State of Michigan, the nominating petitions filed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. are insufficient to allow his name to appear on the August 5, 2014 Primary Ballot,” Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said, according to Detroit affiliate WDIV.

Conyers’ re-election had been a foregone conclusion — as it has been for decades — until recent weeks, when the 25-term incumbent’s position on the ballot became imperiled. Two individuals collecting signatures for Conyers’ ballot-qualifying petition were found to not be registered voters and thereby the signatures were ruled invalid. As a result, Conyers did not meet the 1,000-signature threshold to appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot.

The Conyers camp issued a statement indicating that they will challenge the ruling.

“There is clear Supreme Court and federal court precedent overturning petition residency laws and requirements, and we are confident that those laws will be invalidated in Michigan as well,” Conyers’ campaign co-chairman, state Sen. Bert Johnson said in a news release. “As a result, under existing precedent, we believe Representative Conyers will ultimately be placed on the August ballot.”

“Representative Conyers has fought his entire career defending the right to vote, and he looks forward to fighting this battle for the precious right to participate in our electoral process as well.”

Conyers likely has two political options ahead of him: running as an independent in the fall or as a write-in candidate in the primary.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel also weighed in on the matter.

“The DCCC fully supports Representative Conyers in his re-election campaign, and I have every confidence that when this long process is complete, Representative Conyers will continue to serve the people of Michigan in Congress,” Israel said in a statement. “As the next Dean of the House, the Michigan delegation and pillar of the Democratic party, Representative Conyers will remain one of the most respected voices in Congress.”

Further complicating Conyers’ problems is the revelation that one of his petition gatherers is a wanted fugitive, according to local reports.

The political beneficiary of this chaos is Democratic candidate Horace Sheffield III, who initiated the original challenge to Conyers’ petition circulators.

Conyers is No. 2 in seniority in the House to fellow Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell, who is not running for reelection.

The race is rated Safe Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • Leoncefalo

    Considering that John Conyers has been in the House for 25 terms (that’s 50 YEARS) and that his challenger is also a Democrat, it might be to Conyers’ benefit to retire now, and mentor his challenger into his seat. Seniority is a nice thing when it comes to living a long time, but in the US Congress it tends to petrify one’s thinking, and feeling processes. 50 years is more than enough of a political career, and Conyers has served his constituents honorably.

  • LastBestHope

    At long last sir…just go away.

  • Richard Winger

    This article is faulty when it says Conyers has two options, running as a write-in candidate in the primary or running as an independent. His best option is to get the restriction on who can circulate a petition held unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court has already ruled that states can’t require petitioners to be registered voters, yet this article makes no reference to that at all.

  • markdouglas

    Man that’s tuff. But who was running that campaign? That is their JOB to first make dayum sure you have legal petition signatures, and plenty of them, ten or twenty times as many as you need, just to show off. Conyers made millions off government, it’s time to let someone else grab all they can.

  • Beachguy53

    If I were wagering, I’d bet he’ll take this into court. He’ll judge shop until he finds one to overturn the law. Get ready for ” It’s the will of the people”.

  • Daisy Chaingang

    Am I the only one who finds it creepy for an 85-year-old man to call himself, “Jr.”?

  • Don Turco

    lol and lol….

  • njoriole

    Read it again. There is a specific quote from the campaign chairman about it.

  • JayWills

    Yep, he’ll find a friendly judge to reinstate his name on the ballot. Election laws are only for challengers, not incumbents, ya know.

  • WildBill0283

    Election laws don’t matter to Democrats.

  • Largebill

    What the heck is wrong with Michigan that they keep electing goofs like this guy and Dingell? Term limits are more and more an obvious necessity.

  • TomJB

    Not if he does it out of respect to his father, an individual with his own life, history, and name to be remembered, even if only within the family.

  • marty362

    Hahahahaha… hahahahaha… (breeeeathe)… hahahahaha… hahahahaha!

  • Shootist

    If only we could retire all three branches of government and start fresh (with people who have never stepped foot in the District of Columbia). .

    Re-elect no one.

  • Shootist

    Michigan has no monopoly on “goofs”, I’m sad to report.

  • Pie Thon

    Despite the claims of those promoting despotism in democracy’s name, we must realize that only a combination of knowledge, advertisement, and fortitude will be enough to preserve morality, liberty, and prosperity.

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