Democrat Conyers May Miss Ballot as Petitions Questioned

Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the second-most senior lawmaker in the U.S. House, may be forced to run as a write-in candidate in order to seek a 26th term in office.

Conyers, 84, doesn’t appear to have obtained the 1,000 valid signatures on petitions required to qualify for his state’s Aug. 5 primary ballot, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said yesterday in a statement, citing a report from Detroit’s city clerk.

Conyers turned in 2,000 signatures, of which 1,193 were initially found to be valid, the Detroit Free Press reported. However, two signature gatherers didn’t comply with a Michigan law requiring that they be registered voters, the newspaper said, citing Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey. That invalidated more than 300 signatures they collected, meaning Conyers wouldn’t qualify for the election. according to Garrett.

Conyers’s petitions have also been challenged in two other Wayne County cities, Hamtramck and Ecorse, according to Garrett. She said she’ll make a formal ruling on May 13.

John Pirich, a lawyer for Conyers, said any registration deficiency among the petition gatherers is the fault of the Detroit city clerk’s office. The campaign is also reviewing the rejected signatures, he said.

“I am confident that at the end of these proceedings, Congressman Conyers will be certified and on the primary election ballot in August,” Pirich said by e-mail.

If he doesn’t qualify, Conyers could still run as a write-in candidate.

Conyers, first elected to Congress in 1964, represents part of Detroit and its suburbs in Wayne County. He is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and stands to become the House’s longest-serving member after his Michigan colleague, John Dingell, 87, retires at the end of the year.

A founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers won re-election in 2012 with 83 percent of the vote.

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