The Spectacle Blog

John Conyers (D-MI) Fails to Make Primary Ballot

By on 5.13.14 | 6:59PM

Rep. John Conyers, the second longest-serving current member of the House of Representatives, may be joining the ranks of Michigan House members who are leaving Congress after this session.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett confirmed what had been a simmering rumor for several days: Coners did not submit enough valid signatures to qualify to be on the ballot.

I'll turn 49 this year. Conyers first took office during the year I was born and would be seeking his 26th term. The only current member of the House who has served for longer than Conyers is John Dingell, also a Democrat from Michigan, who earlier this year announced he would not seek re-election.

The signature validity rests on a technical issue of whether three signature gatherers were properly registered to vote at the time that they were collecting signatures.

The decision by Garret appears to be a matter of following current law, but I suspect the law is shaky and may be invalidated by a judge who will hear the case on Thursday. The argument for Conyers will basically be that a technicality about who collected the signatures should not trump the clear intent of those who signed the petitions. An Ohio case, Nader v. Blackwell  (See esp. p. 13-14 of 2008 opinion) may apply here, in which case it's possible that the requirement that the signature collectors be registered to vote in Michigan may be found unconstitutional, in which case Conyers will probably have enough valid signatures to be on the ballot.

On one hand, 50 years in Congress is way way way too long. On the other hand, it's hard to see residency and voter registration requirements on signature collectors being an important aspect of good government, and if they're not then I'd prefer not to see someone (even someone I'd rather see leave Congress) unable to run for election based on such a technicality.

Even if Conyers doesn't make the primary ballot, however, he can run a write-in campaign -- which he'd be very likely to win.

So odds are we'll see another two or four or six years of doddering old Conyers, who will then be the longest-serving active member of Congress...Well, it's not as if that district would elect someone better to replace him...

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