Rep. John Conyers has spent nearly 50 years in the House of Representatives, but the Michigan Democrat could end up as a write-in candidate in the August 5 primaries if a challenge to the candidate's collected signatures doesn't go his way. On Friday, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett told NBC affiliate WDIV that as of now, it looks like the veteran congressman did not collect enough valid signatures to earn a space on the ballot. The final decision doesn't come until May 7, but based on Garrett's comments, the situation doesn't look good for Conyers's campaign.
One of Conyers's opponents challenged the legislator's signatures on the basis that a portion of the people sent out to collect those signatures might not have met the requirements to do so. The Detroit Free Press explained the basics:
Of the 2,000 signatures turned in by Conyers, 1,193 are from valid registered voters in the 13th congressional district — only 1,000 valid signatures are required. But there’s still a challenge from Conyers’ opponent, the Rev. Horace Sheffield, a Detroit Democrat, that has to be sorted out. In the challenge, Sheffield claims that up to seven of the circulators may not be registered to vote, which is a requirement for people collecting signatures. The valid signatures include names collected by the circulators in question
According to Garrett, two of the circulators appear to be invalid, meaning that the names that they collected are also invalid. The statement by Garrett contradicts an earlier statement this week from a deputy clerk, indicating that Conyers was all set for the ballot. The deadline to collect and submit new signatures has already passed.
If Conyers is re-elected this year, he will be the longest-serving member of Congress. Right now, he's second only to Rep. John Dingell, also of Michigan. Dingell announced that he would retire at the end of his current term.