The son of Rep. John Conyers Jr. — the embattled congressman who announced his sudden retirement Tuesday — may be headed for his father’s seat, carrying on a decades-long political dynasty in Michigan.
Conyers (D-Mich.) resigned Tuesday amid allegations of sexual harassment.
In doing so, the erstwhile dean of the House endorsed his eldest son, John Conyers III, to take his place representing Michigan’s 13th Congressional District — even though the 27-year-old has never run for political office.
Tuesday evening in a statement posted on Twitter the younger Conyers said that he had not decided whether to enter the race but hoped “to come to a decision by the new year — once I have taken the time to thoroughly listen to our community.”
Conyers was one of his father’s fiercest defenders as the 88-year-old faced increasing pressure from Democratic leaders to step aside when a growing number of female former aides accused him of mistreatment and unwanted advances.
“It’s very unfortunate to see him fight so long for so many people and to automatically have the allegations assumed to be true,” John Conyers III told reporters last week, according to NBC affiliate WDIV. “And of course, with sexual assault, women are to be believed. But in this instance, he has no history of this.
“And I think that if we’re not going to make [Sen.] Al Franken resign when we have evidence of him groping a woman while she was asleep … it’s disconcerting to me to see the way my father is being treated after he’s given so much to this country, not just for black people but for people alike.”
Of his father, he added: “He fights for everyone.”
Here’s what we know about John Conyers III.
He lacks political experience
Steve Hood, a political consultant in Detroit, told the Detroit Free Press that not much is known about Conyers, at least in political circles.
Conyers is from Detroit and attended Morehouse College as well as New York University, according to his contributor bio on HuffPost.
That bio, whose details The Washington Post has not yet confirmed, identifies Conyers as “a partner at Detroit’s first minority run hedge fund” and “a seasoned multi-discipline consultant who has provided fundraising and social media services to both political and business clients.” It also says he served as an intern in the Department of Community Outreach in the Israeli Embassy in Washington. “John is committed to melding community engagement, entertainment and politics,” the bio states.
According to his Facebook page, Conyers is a managing partner at the Detroit hedge fund EIA Alpha Partners Fund Management and an owner/partner at Palette Agency in Los Angeles.
He caused public headaches for his father in 2010
In 2010, MLive.com reported that John Conyers III was cited for speeding in his father’s Cadillac Escalade — or rather, the government-leased vehicle his father used as a member of Congress.
There were also reports that year that the younger Conyers had driven the vehicle to a rap concert and that it was broken into, according to the news site. The then-20-year-old reported to police that two laptops had been stolen from the Escalade, along with tens of thousands of dollars worth of concert tickets.
After the incident, the elder Conyers apologized.
“I have just learned about the inappropriate use of a congressional vehicle by my son over the Thanksgiving holiday,” he said in a statement at the time, according MLive.com. “I am sorry it happened and will make sure that it does not happen again.”
The Detroit Free Press reported that the congressman said he reimbursed the Treasury Department more than $5,600 for his son’s unofficial use of taxpayer money.
A photo on social media at the time showed his son in a Cadillac with a bottle of French champagne, according to an MLive.com article. The story’s headline: “The fabulous online life of John Conyers III, or why his family needs to do damage control immediately.”
He’s an opinionated writer
In a HuffPost op-ed, under the headline “Orange Watergate: The Inevitable Impeachment of the 45th President,” Conyers wrote that the “reactionary and cavalier nature of the president will ultimately be his down fall.
“As his approval ratings tumble and confidence wanes, expect the weight of possible impeachment to make his already poor decision making worse. Self-preservation is ultimately the downfall of the narcissist.”
In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Conyers wrote that the national debate should be about gun control, not mental illness, explaining: “I have dealt with Major Depressive Disorder since I was 15 years-old. I’ve not once thought about murder. I know right from wrong.
“My friends with bi-polar and depression and multiple personality disorder don’t think about hurting others, if anything we think about hurting ourselves.”
“So if you grapple with mental illness do not let the medias stigmatization of our ailments make you self-conscious,” he wrote in his October op-ed. “As much as they love to make us their scapegoats, It’s not our fault. You, as well as I, know we know right from wrong. When they need someone to blame they look to us first, when it’s time to lend their hand to help us they’re nowhere to be found.”
He’s a rapper
“Hey f— making a living, boy, I’m trying to make history. So picture me letting the news nitpick at me,” Conyers said in the rap video, which showed an image from a news story about the incident.
He’s not the only Conyers vying for the congressional seat
State Sen. Ian Conyers, John Conyers Jr.’s great-nephew, has declared his intention to run in the special election.
Ian Conyers, who represents the 4th district in the state senate, graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in government and a master’s in urban and regional planning, according to his biography.
He worked for then-District Mayor Adrian Fenty, who appointed Conyers as a community outreach and service specialist in Ward 6, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In 2012, Conyers served as a regional field director for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, according to his online resume.
Four years later, the political operative became a politician, winning a special election to replace former state Sen. Virgil Smith. He later told Georgetown’s alumni newsletter: “We dispelled the myth that seniors and middle-aged voters don’t believe in young people.”
After John Conyers Jr. endorsed his own son for his seat, Ian Conyers told the Free Press he was surprised, saying: “I didn’t expect him to make an endorsement.”
Hood, the political consultant, described it as “a family in disarray.”
“You have the potential for two Conyers to go for the seat,” he told the newspaper.
He isn’t guaranteed the seat
Political insiders say the seat does not belong to anyone — a Conyers or not.
“There’s no guarantee that anyone named Conyers is going to be the next congressman representing Detroit,” said Sam Riddle, political director for the Michigan branch of the National Action Network. “We are on the verge of the biggest free-for-all politically you’ve ever seen in Detroit. There should not be an automatic ascension to that congressional seat because your last name is Conyers. The people in Detroit deserve the best candidate possible be elected to that seat represents poorest and blackest city.”
Steve Friess in Detroit contributed to this report, which has been updated.