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Conyers III likes his fundraising, ballot prospects

John Conyers III is confident that the Wayne County clerk will find that he submitted enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the congressional race to replace his father, former U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Detroit.

State Sen. Ian Conyers, the elder Conyers’ great-nephew, wants to be the only Conyers on the primary ballot in August. The senator’s attorney formally challenged his cousin’s nominating petitions in a Wayne County filing last week.

“The focus of my campaign was ensuring my name would appear on the ballot, as it will, despite the pending challenge,” Conyers III said in an statement to The Detroit News on Wednesday.

He issued a plea on Facebook on Monday to “please stop including me in the false Conyers v Conyers narrative.”

“I’m running for office to serve the 12 cities of the 13th Congressional district. Elected office is not about a family dynasty or ‘the throne.’ There is no throne this is an elected position,” John Conyers III wrote about the Democratic primary that will decide who represents the district.

Conyers, 27, has struggled to raise money since he joined the primary race in mid-February. He reported spending more than he raised in the first quarter of 2018, with receipts totaling $3,100, and the campaign spending nearly $3,700.

“To date, we have already exceeded the raise from the first quarter,” Conyers told the News.

The campaigns for both Ian Conyers and John Conyers III are using logos similar to what was previously used by the former congressman.

“Ian’s logo was taken from my father’s and thus, it is our family logo. He’s entitled to use it if he pleases,” John Conyers III said.

Republican off ballot

The only Republican who filed to run for former Rep. Conyers’ seat says he won’t appear on the primary ballot.

David A. Dudenhoefer said he received a letter informing him that the signatures on his nominating petitions were tossed out because of an error in how he filled out the expiration date of the office sought.

“I am disgusted and sorry for my mistake. But, leaders evaluate, learn and keep marching forward,” Dudenhoefer wrote on Facebook.

Pot legalization on vapors

Michigan Senate Republicans continue to debate whether to approve a recreational marijuana legalization petition instead of allowing the measure to go to the November ballot, where experts say it could drive Democratic voter turnout.

The strategy could make it easier to change the potential law, eliminating the need for a three-quarter-majority vote required to change a voter-approved law, said Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.

“To me, the decision is whether we provide citizens the ability to regulate it or not,” Shirkey said, “because that’s really what it comes down to, citizens regulating it through their elective body.”

Senate Republicans are likely to discuss the strategy behind closed doors Thursday, said a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

Action is unlikely without approval from House Speaker Tom Leonard, a DeWitt Republican who does not anticipate support in his caucus, but said this month the door is “not completely shut.”

Senate Republicans are considering options to win over reluctant lawmakers, including potential use of some marijuana tax revenue to pay for an income tax cut, but are waiting for signs of hope in the House.

“I think you’d have to check the sanity of the Senate en masse, in aggregate, for us to do something like that without knowing where are partners in the House would end up,” Shirkey said.

The Michigan Constitution gives lawmakers 40 days to act on citizen initiated legislation. Senate Democrats have said they won’t support efforts to keep the measure off the ballot.

Incumbents challenged

Republicans have filed to challenge incumbent U.S. Reps. Mike Bishop of Rochester and Justin Amash of Cascade Township.

Lokesh Kumar, who filed to run against Bishop in the August primary, owns Eisen Electric, which manufactures parts for General Motors Co. in Lansing. He and his wife have three daughters.

Kumar, 54, said he studied engineering at Eastern Michigan University, has lived in the 8th District for 18 years and is disgusted that Congress gets so little done.

“I think he’s doing nothing, really,” Kumar said of Bishop. “The career politicians need to get out of there and make room for new people. I don’t believe he’s protecting our values at all.”

Kumar said he collected almost all of his own signatures for his nominating petitions to get on the ballot.

“There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with Mike Bishop, and the way thing are going,” he said. “As soon as they heard the words Mike Bishop, they said, ‘I will sign.’”

Kumar’s platform includes increasing federal funding for education, bringing back manufacturing jobs that Michigan lost to Mexico and China, and reducing “bloated government” by exposing waste and abuse, according to his website.

Stu Sandler, a consultant for Bishop’s campaign, said the congressman is “focused on doing his job working for the families of the 8th district.”

“Congressman Bishop has enacted reforms to help strengthen the economy, worked on measures to curb misuse and abuse of opioids, and helped advocate for important legislation such as the Child Protection Improvement Act, which just got signed into law,” Sandler said.

Joe Farrington of Lyons filed to challenge Amash. Farrington could not be reached for comment.

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke and Jonathan Oosting

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