Conyers to go for 24th term in 2012

Jan. 31, 2011 at 10:41 AM   |   Comments

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DETROIT, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Saying he's not ready to retire, U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., who has been in Congress since 1965, announced plans to run for re-election in 2012.

The 81-year-old Michigan Democrat has had an easy time retaining his seat, but political analysts say the 2012 contest could be challenging because of his age and a redistricting exercise that could expand his district, The Detroit News reported Monday.

"It's understood that I'm going to be running again," Conyers told the News. "I mean, I always have."

Conyers, who will try for his 24th term, is the longest-serving black congressional member.

Political commentator Bill Ballenger said Conyers' announcement -- just as Michigan's U.S. Rep. John Dingell saying he will seek re-election -- likely is meant to stake out a claim as the GOP-dominated statehouse gets first crack at redrawing district lines to reduce the state's U.S. House of Representative delegation from 15 to 14 because of population loss.

Ballenger, Inside Michigan Politics editor, said redistricting could be a determining factor.

"If he gets a district that's less African-American than the one he's got now, then things like race and his age could be a factor," Ballenger said.

Conyers has managed to win despite family problems. His wife, a former Detroit city councilwoman, is in prison from a City Hall corruption scandal, and his son recently was caught driving the congressman's federally leased vehicle.

"I think people think bad things happen to him and he's almost a victim," said Robert Kolt, a Democratic media consultant in Lansing. "He just has a great ability to endure over time."

Conyers' status in Congress is "tested every two years and it's not a given," Kolt said. "You have to prove yourself each election cycle."

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