WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- Longtime Detroit Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich., has found his once easy re-election imperiled by failing to collect enough valid signatures to be placed on the primary ballot.
Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett announced Monday that a review of the signatures submitted by the Conyers campaign found 300 of the signatures, which were collected by petition circulators, were not registered voters, and were therefore invalid. Without those 300 signatures, Conyers fell below the 1,000-signature threshold to qualify to be on the ballot August 5.
"Seeing that I do not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of laws and statutes, that the County Clerks are bound by," Garrett wrote in a press release, "it is my determination that in accordance with the current laws and statutes of the State of Michigan, the nominating petitions filed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. are insufficient to allow his name to appear on the August 5, 2014 Primary Ballot."
Conyers was first elected in 1964, and was set to take over as the Dean of the House when his fellow Michigander, Rep. John Dingell, retires this year. His campaign said it would dispute Garrett's determination in court.
"There is clear Supreme Court and federal court precedent overturning petition residency laws and requirements, and we are confident that those laws will be invalidated in Michigan as well," Conyers' campaign co-chairman, state Sen. Bert Johnson said in a news release. "As a result, under existing precedent, we believe Representative Conyers will ultimately be placed on the August ballot."
"Representative Conyers has fought his entire career defending the right to vote, and he looks forward to fighting this battle for the precious right to participate in our electoral process as well," Johnson said.
The challenge came from Conyers' primary opponent, Horace Sheffield III, formerly a friend of the congressman.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee weighed in, standing behind the 25-term incumbent.
"The DCCC fully supports Representative Conyers in his re-election campaign, and I have every confidence that when this long process is complete, Representative Conyers will continue to serve the people of Michigan in Congress," said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel in a statement. "As the next Dean of the House, the Michigan delegation and pillar of the Democratic party, Representative Conyers will remain one of the most respected voices in Congress."
Should Conyers fail to get his name reinstated for the August 5 primary, he still has options, either to run as a write-in candidate in the primary, or as an independent in November.