FILE- In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Conyers’ congressional seat will remain in a Democrat’s hands after Michigan’s primary on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. For the first time in more than five decades, though, it won’t be his. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Michigan Democrats vie for House seats, including Conyers'

August 08, 2018 - 12:29 am

DETROIT (AP) — Heavy voter turnout and delays in counting ballots Tuesday made it difficult to determine who would fill the congressional seat that retired Democratic Rep. John Conyers held for more than five decades. The only thing for certain was that it would be a Democrat.

The 13th District covers a much of Detroit and a number of suburbs, but as of 11:30 p.m., many of those communities hadn't reported any results.

Early returns in both a special election to finish the final two months of Conyers' term and the race for the Democratic nomination to run unopposed for a full two-year term that starts in January showed that Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib were locked in a tight race. Westland Mayor Bill Wild had the fewest votes, but his and surrounding communities were among those that hadn't reported yet.

With no Republicans or any third-party candidates running, the seat will remain in Democratic hands.

Conyers' seat was among three open House seats in Michigan heading into the primary, including another that the Democrats expect to keep and a Republican-held seat they hope to flip in their push to take control of the chamber.

The 89-year-old Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, stepped down in December citing health reasons, though several former female staffers had accused him of sexual harassment.

In addition to Jones, Tlaib and Wild, Conyers' great-nephew, state Sen. Ian Conyers, was competing in the special election. Joining them in the race for the full two-year term were former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson and current state Sen. Coleman Young.

If Tlaib wins, she would be the first Muslim female elected to the House. Tlaib, 42, was in Michigan's House from 2009-2014.

Jones, 59, first was elected to the City Council in 2005. Wild, 50, is the only suburban candidate, having served as Westland's mayor since 2007. Ian Conyers was elected to Michigan's Senate in 2016 and Jackson has served three terms in the Michigan House.

Young's political pedigree in Detroit runs deep: He was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and is the son of the late Coleman A. Young, who was elected mayor in 1973 and held the position for 20 years.

Three Democrats were seeking the 9th District seat following the retirement of longtime Rep. Sander Levin, a Democrat who served 18 House terms and is the brother of retired-Democratic Sen. Carl Levin. Among them was Sander Levin's 58-year-old son, Andy Levin, who has never held elected office but who served as director of the state's Energy, Labor and Economic Growth department from 2010-2011.

The other Democrats seeking the seat, which represents parts of Oakland and Macomb counties in southeastern Michigan, were Ellen Lipton and Martin Brook. Lipton is a patent attorney who served in the Michigan House from 2009-2014. Brook served on the Bloomfield Hills School Board from 2005-2010.

The winner will face Republican Candius Stearns and the Green Party's John McDermott in November.

Democrats are hoping to flip the traditionally GOP-leaning 11th House District with the retirement of Republican Rep. David Trott. Five Democrats and five Republicans were vying for the seat, which represents Detroit's affluent northwest suburbs. In 2016, Trump barely won the district, which has been getting more racially and ethnically diverse.

Democrats facing off in the primary included former U.S. Auto Task Force chief of staff Haley Stevens, former Department of Homeland Security official Fayrouz Saad, entrepreneur Suneel Gupta, state Rep. Tim Greimel and Nancy Skinner.

The GOP primary featured businesswoman and 2016 Trump Michigan campaign co-chair Lena Epstein, former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, Klint Kesto and Mike Kowall.