Michigan Rep. John Conyers, one of the longest-serving Democrats in Congress, lost his appeal Friday to get on the August primary ballot after state officials found problems with his nominating petitions.
The decision is a blow for Conyers and fellow Democrats, who are scrambling to find a way to keep the long-time incumbent in the House. One possibility is for Conyers to mount a write-in campaign, which can be an uphill climb.
The decision came down Friday from the Secretary of State's office. The office determined that Detroit-area officials were correct in keeping Conyers off the ballot, since he "failed to submit" a minimum of 1,000 signatures to qualify.
Wayne County officials had said there were problems with some people who collected signatures -- the circulators weren't registered to vote or had listed a wrong registration address.
Under Michigan law, that can spoil petitions.
Before deciding whether to go the write-in route, Conyers is still awaiting the decision of a federal judge who is expected to rule later Friday on Conyers' request to throw out the Michigan election law as unconstitutional.
Killing Conyers' career that way is "pretty outrageous," his lawyer, John Pirich, said this week.
But political opponents aren't upset. An attorney for a Democratic challenger, the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, said Conyers for decades had no problem following the law.
"In essence, they played the game, lost and then complained that the rules were unfair," Eric Doster said, quoting a Virginia judge.
If Conyers cannot get back on the ballot -- and win -- or mount a successful write-in campaign, it would end a 50-year career in Congress. He is the second most-senior member of the House, only to Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who is already retiring.
If Conyers goes, Michigan would lose a staggering 184 years of congressional service just among five members.
The ballot problems, though, are not unprecedented.
In 2012, another Michigan congressman, Republican Thad McCotter of suburban Detroit, didn't make the ballot because a staff member turned in phony signatures or ones from old petitions