Judges kick Carl Lewis off NJ state Senate ballot

Carl Lewis
September 22, 2011 10:38:48 AM PDT
A federal appeals panel took nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis off a New Jersey state Senate ballot Thursday, finding he does not meet the state's four-year residency requirement after all.

The ruling came nine days after the same three-judge panel from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Lewis should be on the ballot. That day, the court said it would issue a full opinion explaining its decision but never did. Instead, the court scheduled another hearing, which it held earlier this week.

The issue, which turned out to be more complex than it seemed, was whether Lewis would satisfy a requirement that state senators live in the state four years before they take office.

Lewis, 50, grew up in Willingboro, N.J., went to college in Texas and settled in California.

In 1984, he was one of the big stars of the Olympic in Los Angeles, winning four gold medals in track and field. He would add five more over the next 12 years.

He bought homes in New Jersey in 2005 and 2007 and began working as a volunteer track coach at Willingboro High School. But he continued to pay taxes in California and voted there in 2009. He registered to vote in New Jersey only this year.

Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, a Republican who is also the lieutenant governor elected as Gov. Chris Christie's running mate, removed Lewis from the ballot.

Lewis and his supporters say it was a politically motivated move designed to keep the well-known Democrat from running against Republican incumbent Dawn Addiego in the 8th Legislative District, a reliably Republican area in the outer ring of New Jersey's Philadelphia suburbs.

Lawyers for the state say they were just trying to enforce a residency requirement that's been part of the state constitution since 1844.

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