Son of late Detroit Mayor Coleman Young to run for John Conyers' seat
DETROIT — Michigan's governor announced Friday that John Conyers' congressional seat will not be filled until the regularly scheduled election, and a legislator who is the son of Detroit's first black mayor prepared to join the growing field of candidates.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder decided the post will effectively be listed twice on the Aug. 7 primary and Nov. 6 general election ballots. While unlikely, it is possible voters could choose one candidate to fill the vacancy until January and elect another to a full two-year term.
Snyder said he opted against having an earlier special election to give potential candidates ample time to decide about running, provide voters more options and save money.
The 88-year-old Democratic congressman, who was facing a House Ethics Committee investigation over claims by former staffers, cited health reasons for his resignation.
The race for the seat could become a free-for-all. State Sen. Coleman Young II will announce plans Monday to seek the office Conyers represented for five decades, his spokesman said.
Young sought the mayoral seat his late father, Mayor Coleman A. Young, once held, but he lost to incumbent Mike Duggan in the November general election.
"He is battle-tested. This mayoral race has prepared him," Young spokesman Adolph Mongo told The Associated Press. "He knows the issues in the 13th District. He's been campaigning for 10 months on the issues."
Fellow Democratic state Sen. Ian Conyers, John Conyers' grand-nephew, said earlier this week that he will run for the heavily Democratic district that includes parts of Detroit and some western Wayne County communities.
Snyder's office said it consulted with Wayne County's executive before making a decision. The 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization backed the decision, too.
"In order to allow several months for that to take place and to reduce the financial burden on local taxpayers, the primary and general elections will be held when regularly scheduled elections are already occurring," Snyder said in a statement.
The filing deadline is April 24 for both elections. Whoever wins the special election will serve next November and December, and — if he or she also wins the regular race — will serve a two-year term starting in 2019. A Snyder spokeswoman said it could have cost up to $2 million if the special elections were scheduled on non-regular election dates.
But Michael Gilmore, a Detroit attorney who is running for the seat, said not having representation in the House for nearly a year is unfair to residents.
"I think it's unfortunate that the governor thinks this is what we're worth," Gilmore said.
He said he began fundraising for his campaign in April and had planned to challenge John Conyers prior to the sexual harassment allegations.
Jonathan Kinloch, chairman of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization, countered that having the elections on the regularly scheduled dates avoids the typical low turnouts associated with special elections.
"We want as many voters as possible to participate in the filling of the seat," he said.
John Conyers retired Wednesday amid allegations by about a half-dozen women who once worked for him that they were harassed and touched inappropriately. He has denied the allegations.
Some colleagues in the U.S. House had urged Conyers to resign. When he did, he endorsed his 27-year-old son, John Conyers III, to succeed him. The younger Conyers, a partner with a Detroit-based, minority-run hedge fund, posted on Twitter this week that he has not decided whether he wants to run for his father's old seat. The Associated Press has been unable to reach him for comment.
Conyers III never has been elected to a public post. Ian Conyers won a special election in 2016 for the state senate seat. Young was elected in 2010 to the Michigan Senate. He served in the state House from 2005 to 2010.
Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan.