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President Obama endorses Conyers' re-election bid

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — President Obama is endorsing U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, in his bid for a 27th term in Congress.

The president said the Detroit Democrat “has been a champion for jobs, justice, and peace over his career in Congress, and I am proud to endorse him for re-election today.

"I need John by my side as we fight to create good jobs and build an economy that works for everyone,” Obama said in a statement released Wednesday by Conyers’ campaign. “I'm asking you and everyone in the 13th Congressional District to turn out and vote for John Conyers in the August Democratic primary."

Conyers is being challenged in the Aug. 2 primary by Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey. He said he is glad to have the support of the two-term president who is popular with Democratic voters.

“I’m so grateful to President Obama for his tireless work to improve the lives of hardworking families in Metro Detroit and all over this country," Conyers said in a statement. "His support of me and my re-election campaign means so much at this critical time for our country. I am looking forward to building on this to win in August, then generating unprecedented voter turnout this November to help elect Democrats up and down the ticket."

Winfrey, who has been the city clerk since 2006, has said she is challenging Conyers because the longtime congressman is “vulnerable.”

The incumbent’s vulnerability, Winfrey said, comes from Conyers’ re-election scare in 2014 when his bid for a 26th term was nearly derailed by issues with petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“For me, it’s important that we protect the seat,” Winfrey told The News in an interview after she launched her campaign in September 2015. “We know that the honorable John Conyers is vulnerable, and I need to protect my community. And in protecting my community means throwing my hat in this race, and I do it with my hat in my hand.”

Winfrey’s campaign did not immediately respond to request on Obama’s endorsement of Conyers in her race to unseat the longtime incumbent.

Serving since 1965, Conyers is the longest-serving member of Congress after Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Dearborn, who retired in January 2015.

Conyers’ district is considered a safe Democratic seat. In 2014, he defeated Republican Jeff Gorman in the general election 79 percent-16 percent after defeating the Rev. Horace Sheffield 74 percent-26 percent in the Democratic primary.

Staff writer Leonard N. Fleming contributed to this report.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing