Dec. 1 2017 — Succumbing to pressure from highly publicized sexual harassment allegations, Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) announced Wednesday night that he will not seek re-election next year.
Conyers, the Dean of the House and the last member of either congressional chamber originally elected in the 1960s, will retire after serving what will be 54 years as a US representative. Assuming Rep. Conyers completes the current term, he will serve longer in the House than all but one member in American history: fellow Detroit area former Congressman John Dingell (D-Dearborn) who was elected to 30 terms, spending just over 59 years in office.
Michigan’s 13th District that Conyers represents splits downtown Detroit with the adjacent 14th CD, before encompassing the River Rouge, Midtown, Brightmoor, and Westland communities, prior to annexing the Romulus area that includes the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The 13th is solidly Democratic (Clinton: 78.8 percent; Obama ’12: 85.2 percent) and its population is 55 percent African American. Rep. Conyers has averaged 79.8 percent of the vote in the current district configuration, though only tallied 61 percent in the 2016 Democratic primary turning back a challenge from Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey.
We can expect a crowded Democratic primary in a seat that hasn’t been open for more than five decades. The Conyers retirement announcement allows plenty of time for potential candidates to make their decisions. The Michigan candidate filing deadline isn’t until April 24, in preparation for the Aug. 7 partisan primary. The eventual Democratic nominee will capture the seat next November.
Last week, the House Republicans’ most senior member, Florida Rep. Bill Young, announced that he would retire at the end of the current term and not be on the congressional ballot for the first time since 1970. On Friday, the 82-year-old congressman passed away due to complications from a serious back operation. Young had endured chronic back problems ever since surviving a small plane crash the year he was first elected to federal office.
In the entire House, only representatives John Dingell (D-MI-12), John Conyers (D-MI-13), and Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13), had more seniority than Young. The late congressman was the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee chairman. He served as full Appropriations Committee chairman from 1999-2005.
Young’s western Tampa Bay peninsula district now becomes the House’s fourth vacant seat. Gov. Rick Scott (R) soon will call a special election to fill the position for the remainder of the term. Political musical chairs were already beginning to move due to the incumbent’s retirement announcement, but now potential candidates will be forced to quickly make decisions as we head toward a special election.
All eyes will be on former state chief financial officer and gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink (D) who last week expressed interest in running for Congress, a month Continue reading >