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Candidate for John Conyers’ congressional seat sues Michigan governor over special election date

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DETROIT — A candidate who wants to replace U.S. Rep. John Conyers in Congress has filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, claiming that the 11-month delay in holding a special election to fill the vacancy is unconstitutional.

Michael Gilmore, a Detroit attorney who is one of several Democratic candidates seeking to replace Conyers, filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of five voters who live in Conyers’ district.

Conyers was the longest-serving member of Congress when he resigned in early December. Conyers cited health reasons, but his announcement was made after sexual harassment allegations from former employees.

On Dec. 8, Snyder announced that special primary and general elections to choose Conyers’ successor would be held on the already scheduled primary and general election dates — Aug. 7 and Nov. 6, 2018, respectively.

Snyder cited cost savings for choosing the dates and the Democratic chairman of Conyers’ district, Jonathan Kinloch, said he supported the dates Snyder chose.

But the lawsuit alleges the delay violates voters’ constitutional rights to due process, equal protection under the law and the rights to vote and political expression.

“As a result of the standing vacancy, the district did not have a vote on the $1.5 trillion tax reform law recently passed by Congress and will continue to be voiceless on important issues,” the lawsuit alleges.

Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for Snyder, said his office does not comment on pending litigation.

In choosing the election date, Snyder’s office consulted with the Wayne County executive’s office, the office of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and the Michigan secretary of state’s office “before deciding that aligning with the currently existing election dates were the best choice to allow candidates ample time to mount a campaign and at the same time, save money for local taxpayers,” Heaton said.

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