The seasoned lawmaker may have to run as a write-in candidate.
Veteran Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, learned late last week that he has just 592 of the 1,000 valid signatures he needs to stay on the Aug. 9 primary ballot. On Tuesday, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett ruled that he would not be on the ballot.
“It is a very unfortunate circumstance that an issue with a circulator of a petition would disqualify the signature of valid registered voter,” Garrett said in a statement. “Although I am not the final arbiter, I eagerly await the courts’ review of the constitutionality of the laws and statutes pertaining to petition circulators.”
Conyers' campaign had submitted 2,000 signatures, but they were challenged by the campaign of Democratic rival Rev. Horace Sheffield III because two of the petition circulators were found to not be registered voters, as Michigan law mandates. The ACLU on Monday filed a federal lawsuit arguing that it is unconstitutional to require circulators to be registered voters.
In the meantime, Conyers, who turns 85 this week, has three days to appeal the decision and until June 6 to get on the ballot.
However it turns out, Conyers' campaign appears to be undaunted by the prospect of a write-in candidacy. Although in most other cases such an endeavor is more often than not unsuccessful, Conyers has an enviable level of name recognition and won his last term with more than 80 percent of the vote.
"If we have to run a write-in, we're prepared to do that," state Sen. Bert Johnson, who is Conyers' campaign chairman, told the Detroit Free Press. "If he's going to be on the ballot, we're prepared to seek a victory in that vein as well."
Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.
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(Photo: Earl Gibson III/WireImage)