Conyers, Second-Longest Serving Member in Congress, May Not Qualify for Ballot

by Andrew Johnson

Representative John Conyers, who has represented the Detroit area since 1965, may not have enough signatures to appear in August’s Democratic primary.

Under Michigan state law, in order to collect signatures for candidates,  individuals must be registered voters in the state. Conyers’s primary opponent, Reverend Horace Sheffield, is challenging the validity of some of Conyers’s signatures, after four of his aides’ Michigan registration came in to question. The Detroit News reports that two of the aides are not currently registered, while two others were not registered until this week, meaning they collected the signatures when they were not registered.

Conyers had just barely gotten the required number of signatures before questions of his aides’ eligibility came in to play. The Washington Post offers a look into the numbers:

Conyers currently has 1,193 valid signatures, according to the newspaper, and needs 1,000 to qualify for the ballot. The four aides in question collected 525 total signatures, but it’s not clear how many of them are among the signatures deemed to be valid and thus could be deducted from the 1,193.

Conyers’s campaign turned in 2,000 signatures overall, so on average about 60 percent of signatures are valid. If that average is also true for the four aides, that would mean 315 valid signatures would be in question — well more than the 194 required for Sheffield to boot Conyers off the ballot.

A Wayne County official said that it appears as if Conyers will not have the necessary signatures to get his name on the ballot, but the final decision will not be made until Wednesday of this week. Conyers could still run as a write-in candidate.

If elected to Congress again this fall, Conyers would become the longest-serving member in next session’s Congress (fellow Michigan Democrat John Dingell, who currently holds that title and has about a nine-year lead on Conyers, is retiring). If he isn’t reelected, the title will fall the New York’s Charlie Rangel.

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