Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis's bid to run for a seat in New Jersey's General Assembly was from the start certain to be perhaps his most challenging race. But in the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge scandal plaguing Gov. Chris Christie's second term, Lewis is now saying that Christie tried to force him to reconsider his bid.
According to a report from NJ.com, Lewis was going to be appointed the state's "fitness ambassador," which Christie supported until the former track star decided in 2011 to challenge his friend, incumbent Republican state Sen. Dawn Addigeo.
"He called me and asked me to get out of the race. I said I would stay in the race. Then he killed the program and used his secretary of state and attorney general's office to get me out of the race," Lewis said, referring to questions about whether he met the residency requirements to run for office in the state that forced him off of the ballot.
Lewis is the latest person to accuse the governor or one of his surrogates of improperly using their position to "bully" someone into submission in Bridgegate's wake.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Hoboken, NJ, Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused the Christie administration of withholding hurricane relief funds because she declined to back a private development project it wanted to bring to her city.
According to Zimmer, who met with federal investigators on Sunday, during a conversation with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno last May, she was told that though "unfair," receiving Hurricane Sandy funds hinged on her allowing the Rockefeller Group redevelop derelict lots in Hoboken. The Christie administration has denied the allegations, but it reinforces in some people's minds the governor's reputation of being a bully, deserved or not.
Lewis says he felt like Christie "was trying to intimidate me, absolutely. But I definitely didn't feel intimidated." In his mind, Christie is not a bully, "but someone who's insecure, and he's governor now and has got the power."
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(Photos: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images; Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)