Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis can’t appear on the general election ballot for New Jersey’s state senate because he hasn’t met residency requirements, the state’s top elections official said.
Absent a decision from a court to the contrary, Lewis wasn’t a resident of the state for the constitutionally required four years prior to the general election in November, Secretary of State Kimberly Guadagno said yesterday in a letter to three county clerks in the state’s eighth legislative district.
“I am statutorily required to make and certify a statement of all candidates for whom voters ‘may be by law entitled to vote’ in November,” Guadagno said in the letter obtained by Bloomberg News. “In view of my statutory obligations, I cannot certify the name of Frederick Carlton ‘Carl’ Lewis.”
A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19, William Tambussi, an attorney for Lewis, said today in an e-mail.
Lewis, a 49-year-old Democrat, persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to stay an April 26 ruling by Guadagno that found him ineligible to run for office because of residency requirements. The ruling temporarily allowed Lewis’s name on the ballot for the June 7 primary election until a district court judge could decide the constitutionality of the state’s residency provision as it was applied to the former athlete.
‘Unilateral Political Tactic’
“This eleventh hour, unilateral political tactic is further evidence of the Secretary of State’s utter disregard of the facts,” Tambussi said in an e-mail. “Mr. Lewis’ position from the outset has been and remains that the election should be in the hands of the voters and not a political actor.”
Lewis, who grew up in New Jersey before moving to Texas and California, is fighting to represent a district that has traditionally elected Republicans. Incumbent Dawn Marie Addiego, a Republican, was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Phil Haines, who was tapped for a judgeship.
The nine-time Olympic gold medalist argued that he bought a home in New Jersey in 2005, which made him a state resident. He got a state driver’s license in 2006 and became a volunteer assistant track coach at Willingboro High School, his alma mater, in 2007. Guadagno, a Republican who is also the lieutenant governor, said the record showed Lewis didn’t buy his current home until Nov. 16, 2007, eight days after the cutoff.
The federal case is Lewis v. Guadagno, 1:11-cv-02381, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).