Rep. John Conyers is retiring from House seat

Michigan congressman announces retirement amid sexual harassment allegations

DETROIT – After more than 50 years of public service in the U.S. House, Rep. John Conyers has announced he will not seek another term.

The announcement made Tuesday morning on a Detroit radio show comes amid sexual harassment accusations. Conyers said he is retiring as of Tuesday.

His term ends in 2018, but Conyers said his retirement is effective as of Tuesday. The Michigan governor must set forth a special election to fill the vacant seat. 

During the radio interview Conyers said he endorses his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in Congress and continued to deny sexual harassment allegations. 

"My legacy can't be compromised or diminished in any way by what we're going through now," Conyers said. "This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here, and especially my oldest boy John Conyers III, who incidentally I endorse to replace me in Congress."

RELATED: Conyers' son defends father amid sexual harassment claims: 'He has no history of this'

Conyers spoke via phone to Detroit radio show host Mildred Gaddis, who said the congressman was calling the show from the hospital where he has been for the past week suffering from dizziness and shortness of breath, according to his attorney Arnold Reed. 

Conyers, 88, serves as U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district. The Democrat stepped down from his position as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee last week and denied the sexual harassment allegations. 

Here is a list of possible candidates to run for Conyers' vacant seat: 

  • John Conyers III: John Conyers' son, who the congressman said he endorses
  • Ian Conyers: John Conyers' nephew who is a Michigan state Senator representing the 4th District.  
  • Rashida Tlaib: Former State Representative from Del Ray/Southwest section of Detroit
  • Mary Sheffield: Current and re-elected Detroit City Council member
  • Coleman A. Young II: Current, but term-limited, State Senator from Detroit
  • Reggie Turner: Clark Hill attorney and former State Board of Education member, lobbyist and State Gaming Commission member worked with both Engler and Granholm
  • Bill Wild: Mayor of Westland
  • Brenda Jones -- Detroit City Council president
  • Benny Napoleon -- Wayne County Sheriff
  • Sherry Gay Dagnogo -- Michigan state representative for the 8th District -- comprising northwest Detroit

A look back at Conyers' career

Congressman Conyers has had an exceptionally long congressional career lived in two parts. Born in 1929 in Highland Park, Conyers attended Northwestern High School, then Wayne State University Law School. While in law school Conyers took at job working for John Dingell, one of a handful of men who served in Congress longer than Conyers. 

Conyers' first election win was in 1964. He took the oath of office in 1965 during enormous political change. Early on, Conyers quickly found himself in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. He befriended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, something famed New York African American Congressman Adam Clayton Powell was not enthusiastic about at the time. 

"He looked at us and he said, 'What for? I represent black people in America. You don't need a caucus.' We were dumbfounded," said Conyers. 

Conyers introduced the 1965 Voting Rights Act and has described a great relationship with President Lyndon B. Johnson. 

"His conscience, I think, kicked in, and he began to realize the inevitability of the President and the Congress doing the right thing and moving race relations forward," said Conyers. 

Conyers had the opposite relationship with President Richard Nixon. He introduced the Impeachment Resolution, calling the vote "inescapable upon us."

President Nixon resigned before there was any impeachment vote. 

Conyers later succeeded in establishing a national holiday for Dr. King's birthday. He believes getting that bill through Congress was one of his crowning achievements. 

Still, Conyers suffered his share of defeats. He wrote of how he tried to stop the violence during the 1967 riots in Detroit but was shouted down and told to go home for his own safety. 

Conyers also ran for Detroit mayor against Coleman Young twice, losing both times. Conyers nearly was not re-elected in 2014 when his staff failed to get sufficient signatures on the ballot. A legal fight reinstated him on the ballot and he won re-election. 

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.