LANSING - Voters in Michigan's 13th congressional district will go to the polls Aug. 7 and Nov. 6 to choose a successor to U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Gov. Rick Snyder announced Friday — the same dates on which elections are already scheduled.
Snyder announced the dates for a special primary and a special general election after Conyers announced his retirement and resigned this week.
The dates Snyder chose will save money by tying the special elections to election dates that are already scheduled. But they also mean residents of the district will go about 11 months with out a representative in Congress.
The district will have two elections on Nov. 6 — one for a candidate to complete Conyers' term that ends Dec. 31, 2018, and the other to serve the new two-year term that starts Jan. 1, 2019. Candidates are free to run in both elections, said Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton.
“Having ample time for candidates to make a decision about running for office and file their paperwork gives people more options as to who will next represent them in Congress,” Snyder said in a news release.
“In order to allow several months for that to take place and to reduce the financial burden on local taxpayers, the primary and general elections will be held when regularly scheduled elections are already occurring.”
Jonathan Kinloch, Democratic chairman for the 13th District, said he supports the dates Snyder chose and he called Snyder's office Thursday to ask for those dates.
Time is needed to raise money so a wide array of potential candidates are able to run, Kinloch said. If early dates were chosen, only "swamp monsters" with ready access to money from lobbyists would be able to compete, he said.
But others criticized the lengthy delay in choosing a successor to Conyers.
Former state Democratic chairman Mark Brewer said on Twitter that Snyder "continues to give the back of his hand to urban areas."
The liberal group Progress Michigan called the decision "another example of Rick Snyder willfully taking away people’s right to elected representation in a prominent community of color."
Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State's Office, said each election would cost about $1 million more if held on a date when an election was not already being held.
Candidates who want to run in the primary have until April 24 to file, Snyder said.
Conyers, who was the longest-serving current member of Congress, cited ill health when announcing his retirement. But the move came after several former female staffers accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual touching.
Michigan's 13th is an irregular-shaped congressional district that includes parts of Detroit and Dearborn Heights, as well as Highland Park, Redford Township, Ecorse, Garden City, Inkster, Melvindale, River Rouge, Romulus, Wayne and Westland.
It's considered a safe Democratic seat.
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