WASHINGTON — The process of filling the seat left open by the retirement of Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers could take some time to sort out and cost a good bit of money.
By law, the governor is required to call a special election to select someone to fill out the remainder of the congressman's term, which ends Jan. 3, 2019.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder can schedule that election whenever he wishes, though it often comes on the date of the next regularly scheduled election — which, at present, is May 7, 2018, when there will be balloting for local boards and millage rates.
But because it's a House seat, that also means having a primary election first to decide who would run in a general election. That's what happened in 2012, for instance, after former congressman Thad McCotter, a Republican from Livonia, Mich., stepped down in July.
Kerry Bentivolio won a September primary to be the Republican nominee to both fill out McCotter's unexpired term and to take the seat in the next Congress. In the November general election, however, Democrat David Curson won the race to serve out the remaining six weeks of McCotter's term while Bentivolio won to replace McCotter in the next Congress.
So it's possible that a primary could be held in May and then a general election to fill out his term Aug. 7, the date of the next regular election.
The process also means that between now and the special election, there will be no one in Congress representing the district.
A special election isn't cheap: The Secretary of State's Office puts it at about $2,000 per precinct. There are roughly 517 precincts in Conyers' Wayne County district, according to a count by the Detroit Free Press, putting the cost at a little more than $1 million.