Conyers Fails to Qualify for Ballot

James Wright | 5/16/2014, 9:28 a.m.
Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), the senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the second longest-serving member of the U.S. Congress, failed to gather enough signatures to get on the Aug. 5 ballot for re-election.

Conyers, 84, was 400 signatures short of the 1,000 needed to get on the primary ballot, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said earlier this week.

"It is a very unfortunate circumstance that an issue with a circulator of a petition would disqualify the signature of a valid registered voter," Garrett said. "However, I am bound by the current laws and statutes of the state of Michigan that set forth very specific and narrow instructions regarding candidate petitions."

Conyers was elected to the House of Representatives in 1964 and played a key role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. At the time of his election, he was one of six blacks in the House.

Conyers, who co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969, received attention for his persistent criticism of Richard Nixon, so much so, that the president made him No.13 on his infamous "enemies list."

The congressman spearheaded legislation in the 1980s to re-authorize the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years, create a national holiday commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., and imposing sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

He has served as chairman of the House Government Operations and Judiciary committees, as well as the ranking Democrat.

It is believed that Conyers will appeal Garrett's decision.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) wants Conyers to come back and serve two more years.

"I have every confidence that when this long process is complete, Rep. Conyers will continue to serve the people of Michigan in Congress," Israel said.