John Conyers Jr. has represented at least some part of Detroit in Congress since 1965, and he’s a civil rights icon who commands respect at home as well as on Capitol Hill in Washington.
That alone should not be enough to recommend Conyers for yet another term; his energy has slowed and he is not delivering for his district the way he used to, or the way he should be.
Then there is the matter of his wife, Monica, who’s serving a federal prison sentence for shaking down vendors when she was a member of the Detroit City Council; implausibly, the congressman swears he knew nothing of the conspiracy she pled guilty to taking part in.
But elections are about finite choices, and while all of Conyers’ Democratic opponents are competent, none offers sufficient support for turning out a congressman of his seniority and influence.
JOHN CONYERS gets our endorsement, but it is mostly with the hope that he will soon retire from Congress and the district will produce a more viable alternative.
This may be the last time this newspaper can back him, but for now, Conyers is the best alternative.
Hmm. Doubt his campaign will be posting that one on his website …
As a sidenote, isn’t the Detroit Free Press’ reluctant endorsement of Conyers very emblematic of the disastrous problems that have plagued Michigan for decades? Essentially what they’re saying here is that they know Conyers is a corruptocrat who has done little to nothing for his US House district (as pointed out in this heartbreaking video on the decline of Detroit) but, hey – let’s vote him back in office anyway!
Conyers’ re-election prospects are not as strong as they have been in the past, however – thanks to redistricting. The 14th district is new to him in almost its entirety – considering he switched districts with another Democrat after the redistricting to help his chances with re-election:
His problems started with redistricting. Last year, his west Detroit seat was changed so drastically that Conyers worked out a plan to switch districts with Rep. Hansen Clarke, his former chief of staff. Still, about 60 percent of Conyers’s district is new to him, and part of it extends into Detroit’s suburbs, where many voters are unfamiliar with him.
“He’s not doing anything, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost. It’s unbelievable — it’s been one big fiasco with him and Hansen Clarke switching districts. Politics 101 tells you that was a big mistake,” said Adolph Mongo, a longtime Democratic strategist in Detroit.
Ed Sarpolus, Conyers’s campaign manager, acknowledged that the congressman would need to woo voters who have never voted for him before and who may be unfamiliar with his long tenure. Sarpolus said Conyers would work to remind voters of his accomplishments and seniority in the weeks leading up to the race. And he said the campaign was in the process of purchasing airtime for TV and radio ads.
“It’s a challenge because now he needs to do new outreach,” Sarpolus said. “He’s reaching out to people who may not know his record, who may not have met him before.”
The racial composition of the contest also presents a challenge for Conyers, a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Conyers’s lead opponent, Glenn Anderson, is a well-known Caucasian state senator who is expected to perform strongly in Detroit’s predominantly white suburbs, where he is from.
And while nearly 60 percent of the district’s voters are black, Conyers faces three African-American opponents — two of whom are well-known state legislators — who threaten to siphon votes from him.
I think this quote from Conyers during the heated debate over ObamaCare pretty much says it all about most of his Congressional career:
“I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Rep. John Conyers. “What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”