John Conyers (D-Michigan) has been in the House of Representatives for approximately half a century now. (No… that’s not an exaggeration.) In all that time, you’d think that his team would have this whole election thing pretty much down pat, eh? Well… politics is hard.

Veteran U.S. Congressman John Conyers does not have enough signatures to get on the Aug. 5 primary ballot, according to Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett.

Garrett told Local 4 on Friday that the signatures of two of Conyers’ circulators appear to be invalid.

However, she said this is not the final decision on the issue. That will come by May 7, following an investigation into a formal challenge of Conyers’ signatures.

If he doesn’t get on the ballot, Conyers will have to run as a write-in candidate for his 26th term. The 84-year-old Detroit Democrat is coming up on 50 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For those of you who have worked – either as staff or volunteering – on any campaigns, you’ll know that the signature collection process is one of the tricky aspects of getting on the ballot every time an election comes around. If you have a good party structure in your area with experienced staff, this generally isn’t much of an issue. But for newcomers it can turn into a nightmare pretty quickly. The rules vary by state and you generally not only need to collect valid signatures, but have valid people doing the collecting. We had a Tea Party newcomer out here last cycle who paid two workers to collect, giving them one dollar per signature turned in. It so happens that this is illegal and it pretty much ended his candidacy.

After 50 years, though, it’s all the more strange that Conyers’ team dropped the ball on this one. What apparently caught them up was the fact that two of their collectors were not registered voters – yet another requirement to keep track of. But none of this means that Conyers is on the way out. We’ve seen cases before where a friendly judge can turn these rules into something closer to guidelines and let a sitting office holder slide. And even if they don’t, Conyers can still do a write-in campaign. That’s usually a long shot in American politics, but given how long the congressman has been a fixture in that area, he could probably pull it off.