Updated 6:14 p.m. | Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. failed to qualify for the Michigan 13th District primary ballot, a local county clerk ruled Tuesday.
“Seeing that I do not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of laws and statutes, that the County Clerks are bound by, 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,” Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said, according to Detroit affiliate WDIV . Conyers’ re-election had been a foregone conclusion — as it has been for decades — until recent weeks, when the 25-term incumbent’s position on the ballot became imperiled . Two individuals collecting signatures for Conyers’ ballot-qualifying petition were found to not be registered voters and thereby the signatures were ruled invalid. As a result, Conyers did not meet the 1,000-signature threshold to appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot.
The Conyers camp issued a statement indicating that they will challenge the ruling.
“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.”
Conyers likely has two political options ahead of him: running as an independent in the fall or as a write-in candidate in the primary.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel also weighed in on the matter.
“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,” Israel said 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.”
Further complicating Conyers’ problems is the revelation that one of his petition gatherers is a wanted fugitive, according to local reports. The political beneficiary of this chaos is Democratic candidate Horace Sheffield III, who initiated the original challenge to Conyers’ petition circulators.
Conyers is No. 2 in seniority in the House to fellow Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell, who is not running for reelection.
The race is rated Safe Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.