By AUBRIE GEORGE
After some doubt from opponents, an administrative judge has ruled that former Olympian Carl Lewis is a resident of New Jersey and, therefore, eligible to run for Democratic state Senate in the upcoming primary election.
Lewis announced intentions to run for state senate in the eighth legislative district in early April. The nine-time Olympic gold medalist is a native of Willingboro and owns a home in Medford.
Lewis’ Republican opponents challenged his candidacy because, they said, he had not lived in New Jersey for the four years that are required to run for state Senate. The Burlington County Republican Committee filed a complaint, challenging his legitimacy and asking for his name taken off of the ballot for the June primary.
But this week, Administrative Law Judge John Schuster made a recommendation that said Lewis is a legitimate resident, and, therefore, should be eligible to run in the primary. Schuster’s recommendation will be passed on to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who will make the final decision.
“I am very gratified with today’s decision by the administrative law judge. I’m confident that the Lt. Governor will uphold the ruling so that we can devote our full attention to the real issues facing the residents of the eighth district,” Lewis said Wednesday. “The voters want to know where the candidates stand on the serious issues facing New Jersey and their visions for the future. They’re not interested in partisan sideshows that distract from that important discussion. “
Burlington County GOP Consultant Chris Russell said the party remains confident the ultimate decision would not be in favor of Lewis. He said that, despite two hours of testimony, Lewis and his lawyer did not make a compelling argument that he is a legitimate resident of the state. He noted Lewis’ testimony to the judge that he had voted in California as recent as 2009 and registered to vote in New Jersey on the day he announced his candidacy.
“We remain confident that at the conclusion of the legal process Mr. Lewis will be found ineligible to run for the New Jersey State Senate based on the indisputable facts in this case,” Russell said.
Guadagno is scheduled to make a decision today, so check back to find out what happens.