DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A rival’s challenge to U.S. Rep John Conyers’ nominating petitions could put roadblocks in the veteran Detroit Democrat’s drive to seek another term in Congress and become its longest-serving member.
The staff of the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, a Democrat, filed a challenge Tuesday with the Wayne County clerk’s office after a TV news report that two of Conyers’ petition circulators weren’t registered voters when they gathered signatures.
Petition circulators must be registered voters. Conyers, 84, could miss a spot on the Aug. 5 primary ballot if the clerk’s office rejects the signatures and Conyers falls short of the needed number.
To appear on the primary ballot, a candidate had to submit petitions with 1,000 valid signatures by 4 p.m. on April 22, according to the office of Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. The office said a candidate may submit up to 2,000 signatures to make sure of meeting the minimum for valid signatures.
It wasn’t immediately known how many signatures Conyers submitted and how many were on petitions circulated by the two people in question. Messages left Tuesday evening for Conyers spokesman Andrew Schreiber weren’t immediately returned.
Conyers first was elected to the U.S. House in 1964. He represents Michigan’s 13th district, which includes Detroit, Ecorse, Romulus and Westland. Before joining the House, he served as an aide to U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, who is retiring at the end of the year and who now is the House’s longest-serving member.
Should Conyers’ name not appear on the Democratic primary ballot, he could choose to run a write-in campaign in the primary or to file as an independent for the general election. The deadline to file as an independent is July 17.
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, resigned from the House in 2012 after fraud was discovered in his nominating petitions for that year’s GOP primary. And Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan missed the 2013 primary ballot because of a filing error but finished first in the primary as a write-in before winning office that November.
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