MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) –– Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis quit the race for New Jersey state senate today, a day after a federal appeals panel removed him from the ballot because he didn’t meet a four-year residency requirement.
He had to decide quickly whether to drop out or press on with a court battle. Thursday’s ruling came with less than seven weeks before the November 8th election and just as ballots are to be printed and sent out, first to voters overseas, then to others.
Lewis said he would still be involved in Democratic campaigns and charity work. “Service does not need a title,” he said.
His withdrawal caps a week of suspense in his stop-and-go challenge to Republican incumbent Dawn Addiego for a seat representing the heavily Republican 8th Legislative District.
Lewis’ campaign, begun in April, has been heavy on legal proceedings and light on political debate.
Lewis grew up in South Jersey but settled in California. He bought homes in New Jersey in 2005 and 2007 and became a volunteer track coach at his alma mater, Willingboro High School, in 2007.
But he continued to vote in California until 2009 and didn’t register to vote in New Jersey until he started his campaign.
New Jersey secretary of state Kim Guadagno, a Republican who is also the state’s elected lieutenant governor, deemed him ineligible to run for state senate. She was backed up by Burlington County Republicans who intervened in the case.
Lewis’ lawyer argued in court after court that Lewis is a known figure and not a carpetbagger — so there was no reason to bar him from running.
He persuaded the 3rd Circuit panel to keep Lewis on the ballot for the June primary, but it didn’t work to keep him there for the general election.
Unless there’s a change quickly, the ballots will be printed without a Democratic candidate.
(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)