U.S. Representative John Conyers, a 50 year member of Congress, is now looking at a write in candidacy to gain a 26th term in office.
Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett told Local Four News on camera that Conyers appears to lack enough valid petition signatures to appear on the ballot.
“The signatures don’t come up to what the Congressman would need,” Garrett said.
View/download: Wayne County Clerk's press release on Conyers' signatures
She noted her office does not take sides in elections and only attempts to enforce election law. She said, based on the latest information her office received from the Detroit City Clerk, two Conyers’ circulators, Daniel Pennington and Tiara Willis Pittman, only registered to vote last Monday. That was long after they turned in roughly 400 signatures for Conyers.
According to state law petition circulators in partisan races must be a registered voter at the time they gather signatures. Because many of Conyers’ signatures were collected by then-unqualified voters, those signatures are likely invalid.
“Based on the information that this office received from Janice Winfrey’s office, he doesn’t [qualify for the ballot],” Garrett said.
However, she hedged that statement by saying this is not a final, final decision because the window for the signature challenges doesn’t close until May 7th. Until that deadline passes, nothing is final.
But I asked her “is it likely, in your estimation, knowing what you know now that this information could change?”
Her answer: “No.”
So, although the ultimate decision has not been made and notifications to candidates have not gone out yet, it’s unlikely anything will change that would give the congressman a pathway to the August 5th primary ballot.
I talked to Garrett at 1:30 pm. Let’s rewind to 11:30am, when I found Congressman Conyers at a political event with the Homeland Security Director in Detroit. I asked the
Congressman: “Can you win a write in candidacy?”
“Why would I have to do that?” He answered. “I’ve already filed.”
“Well, but it looks like half of your signatures aren’t good sir.” I said.
He replied: “No it doesn’t.”
“It doesn’t,” I responded.
“No, as a matter of fact I’ve got a certificate from the clerk.”
The problem is I discussed this with Garrett today and the State election commission yesterday. There was no official declaration of his candidacy so I pressed him on it:
“There has been official declaration your signatures are good?
The congressman replied: “Yes.”
I pressed him further, explaining I was told yesterday by the state there has been no official declaration.
But Conyers was insistent: “I have it ok, I’m sorry I didn’t bring it.”
I pressed him still further: “You’re saying all of your signatures are good and everything is fine from the clerk?”
He said yes.