- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2014

Longtime Rep. John Conyers suffered another setback Friday in the struggle to get his name onto the Aug. 5 Democratic primary ballot in his Detroit district, as state election officials confirmed that he lacked enough signatures to qualify.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson upheld the ruling by a county election judge last week the booted the 49-year House veteran off the ballot, the Detroit Press reported.

Ms. Johnson determined that Mr. Conyers, 84, the longest-serving African-American in Congress, had just 455 valid signatures on his petition. Candidates need 1,000 valid signatures to qualify.

The Conyers campaign had appealed the county decision to Ms. Johnson.

Mr. Conyers‘ last hope of getting on the ballot now rests with Detroit U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, who is expected to rule Friday afternoon on the constitutionality of Michigan’s 1966 law that requires petition circulators be registered voters.

But a ruling in Mr. Conyers‘ favor might not be enough. Many of the signatures were disqualified for other reasons.

For now, the only name that will appear on the Democratic primary ballot for the district is the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, whose campaign challenged Mr. Conyers‘ signature count.

Conyers campaign spokesman Ron Scott said that the staff is meeting with the congressman and his attorneys to consider the options, adding that they are awaiting Judge Leitman’s decision.

“It wasn’t something that wasn’t unexpected. It is not something that’s surprising,” Mr. Scott told the newspaper. “We’re moving ahead with our campaign.”

Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Scott vowed that the campaign will move ahead, including a possible write-in effort. If Mr. Conyers wins the primary as a write-in candidate, he would automatically appear on the general election ballot.

Mr. Conyers is a fixture of Detroit politics and has held top posts in the Congress including chairing the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

His personal and political life was shaken in 2010 when his wife, former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers, was sentenced to more than three years in prison for bribery and corruption. She was released last year.

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