PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A three-judge federal appeals panel in Philadelphia is now considering whether to put former Olympic runner Carl Lewis back on the New Jersey primary ballot for State Senate even as the question of his legal residency (see previous story) — and the constitutionality of the question — is debated in court.

The federal panel is promising an interim answer soon.

The judges seemed sympathetic to the plight of elections officials who have to get vote-by-mail ballots out by Friday.

The panel quizzed all parties as to what potential harm would be done to Lewis, and to voters in the mostly Burlington County district he seeks to represent, if his name is not on the primary ballot.

Meanwhile, Lewis — speaking at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia following today’s hearing — says Republicans who have characterized him as a “carpetbagger” don’t bother him.

“You can name-call all you want, but I was name-called when I ran track.  They called me every single name in the world, but you know what?  I was able to get to the starting line and all the name-calling stopped because you crossed the finish line and you’re a winner,” he said.

Among the panel’s options is putting Lewis back on the ballot and allowing a lower court to reconsider the constitutionality of New Jersey’s four-year residency requirement and how it affects Lewis specifically (see related story).

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

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