DETROIT – Veteran Congressman John Conyers declared victory yesterday claiming he was officially declared eligible for the Aug. 5 Primary Ballot in Wayne County by the County Clerk's office.
His staff put out a press release crowing about how Conyers was primed for a tough campaign. There is a problem with that assertion; it is likely premature.
Cathy Garrett, the County Clerk was on vacation and not in the office yesterday and as of this afternoon the State of Michigan Secretary of State's Office says no official declaration of candidates positioned on the ballot has been made.
But there is much more going on here. Local 4 has confirmed there has been communication between the Detroit City Clerk's Office and the Wayne County Clerk's Office. The county clerk asked the city to re-check all of the circulators who brought in signatures for John Conyers based on a challenge filed by Conyers opponent Rev. Horace Sheffield.
Two circulators in question that we have written about for the past several days are 23-year-old Daniel Pennington and 19-year-old Tiara Willis Pittman. They -- it was confirmed by the City of Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey -- registered to vote on Monday. Their signatures were collected starting in January. State law says circulators must be registered voters when the collect signatures. The investigation so far says they are not.
Detroit City clerk Janice Winfrey stated yesterday on camera their signatures should be considered invalid. Today though, when Winfrey's staff looked in the state qualified voter registration database another name of a Conyers' circulator more trouble cropped up.
Alex Cantu of Detroit had gathered some 175 signatures for the veteran congressman. His name is not in the qualified voter database at all. Winfrey told Garrett and Garrett told me on the phone that is what her office told her. But Garrett said it was not an official notification and she was not in a position to make a determination yet whether the nearly 600 signatures these three circulators were responsible for will end up being thrown out.
By the way, that is more than half of the petition signatures Conyers' staffers turned in last week.
Garrett is asking the State of Michigan to step in and make a determination but it is waiting for her to say whether the signature canvass is complete. The heat is on Garrett and the congressman is in serious danger of not making the ballot.
Rest assured we will stay on top of this story -- Cathy Garrett has agreed to do an interview with Local 4 tomorrow afternoon.