Dean of House Conyers Wins Tough Primary Battle

John Conyers, longest-serving active member of Congress, held off a strong primary challenge from Clerk Janice Winfrey.

Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo/WDET

The longest-serving active member of Congress appears likely to retain that position.

Michigan Democrat John Conyers emerged victorious in the state’s party primary elections, holding off a strong challenge from Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey to continue vying for his 27th term in Congress.

Winfrey finished closer to Conyers than any candidate in recent memory, arguing that the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee had let his district fall into poverty while he concentrated on national issues.

Conyers countered that his work helped the nation as a whole including his own constituents.

But he says he will focus on a national matter now, by turning his attention to turning out the vote for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“They’re assuming she will carry Michigan,” Conyers said. “And you can’t take anything for granted with a guy like (Donald) Trump, who can make mistake after mistake and still be doing okay.”

Conyers will almost assuredly get the chance to rally his troops.

A Democrat has won his district for more than half-a-century.

And those who support the current “Dean of the U.S. House” say they plan to keep it that way.

 Conyers’ supporter Arthur Featherstone, who worked for the long-time Congressman alongside Rosa Parks in 1965, says the Detroit Democrat’s work on civil rights demands respect from voters.

I’d tell ‘em to vote for him because of all the things he has done down through the years,” Featherstone said. “Like the Selma drive. In 1965 when they came over the bridge in Selma, about five minutes later Dr. King called. I said uh oh. And Dr. King told John to start a food drive for Selma. We raised two truckloads of clothes and food for Selma.”

Conyers is now the longest-serving African American in the history of Congress.


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.