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05.02.14

After 49 Years In Congress, John Conyers May Not Make The Ballot

Michigan Democrat John Conyers has served in Congress since 1965 but he may not make the ballot this year.

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John Conyers has served in Congress since 1965 and is one of the longest serving elected officials in American history. However, the Michigan Democrat may not be back next year. It won't be because he's tired of the job or voters have tired of him. Instead, Conyers may not make the ballot because of paperwork issues.

According to a local election official, Conyers does not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Michigan law requires that anyone who gathers signatures for candidates to make the ballot be a registered voter but apparently two of those gathering signatures for Conyers weren't registered to vote. The result is that the signatures gathered by those men are invalid and the Michigan congressman would not be able to qualify for the ballot in the Wolverine State's August 5 Democratic primary.

These irregularities came to light when Conyers' primary opponent, Rev. Horace Sheffield, challenged the signatures in an attempt to boot the incumbent off the ballot win the primary by default. If Conyers doesn't make the ballot, he would be the second Michigan incumbent to be felled by these issues in the past two years. In 2012, Republican Thad McCotter failed to make the ballot when it was revealed staff members had been faking hundreds of signatures on petitions. The five-term incumbent subsquently resigned from Congress.

This isn't the first scandal for Conyers, who chaired the House Judiciary Committee from 2006-2010. In 2009, his wife Monica, then a Detroit City Councilwoman, pleaded guilty in federal court to taking bribes from city contractors. She eventually was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.

If he's booted from the ballot, Conyers could still run as a write-in candidate, which would be a far more difficult path for the 84-year-old who has not faced a serious election challenge in decades. The most recent candidate to win federal office as a write-in was Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who did so in 2010 after losing the Republican primary to Tea Partier Joe Miller.