U.S. Rep. John Conyers said Thursday he doesn’t believe he fell victim to a conspiracy to bounce him from the ballot and end his storied political career. The Detroit Democrat was removed from the Aug. 5 primary ballot for not having enough valid petition signatures before a federal judge Friday restored him to the ballot over concerns Michigan’s election law may be unconstitutional. Conyers, 85, hired family friend and political consultant Steve Hood to handle the petition gathering. Hood has since publicly apologized for not checking the voter registration status of the circulators he hired — a mistake that initially disqualified hundreds of signatures and may have cost Conyers his congressional career. “I know the whole Hood family,” Conyers told The News Thursday. “I know his father, his brother. I know the church. It was very painful.”
Hundreds of signatures were tossed by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett and affirmed by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson because several circulators were not deemed registered voters as required by Michigan law — putting Conyers below the 1,000 signatures required.
The debacle was an embarrassment for Conyers, who has made the ballot 25 previous times, and some supporters suspected the mishap could be the work of a sabotage. Conyers is facing a serious primary challenge from another longtime family friend, the Rev. Horace Sheffield.
“I don’t suspect a conspiracy,” Conyers said. “But there are those that remind me you shouldn’t discount it.”