Not So Fast, Carl Lewis

A judicial panel is reconsidering its decision allowing Carl Lewis to run for New Jersey Senate.

Posted: 09/21/2011 08:30 AM EDT
Carl Lewis

Just when he thought he was finally a contender in the New Jersey state Senate race, Olympic track star Carl Lewis may find himself out again. A panel of three federal judges who ruled just last week that he was eligible to run for the office said Tuesday that they want to reconsider their decision.


Lewis has spent the last few months mounting a legal challenge against the constitutionality of a ruling by the New Jersey’s Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who also serves as secretary of state, that he is ineligible to run for office because he does not meet the state’s four-year residency requirement. He owns two homes in New Jersey, but lived in California for the past several years and voted there in 2008 and 2009.


Those factors formed the basis of Guadagno’s decision and appear to be a stumbling block for U.S. Third Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro, author of the panel’s 2-1 ruling in favor of Lewis, reports.


“You can only be a citizen or a domiciliary of one state," he said this week. "To vote in California you must be a resident, which in California means you must be there a domiciliary.... You cannot be domiciled in New Jersey until you cease being domiciled in California, and that happened well after May of 2009."


The election ballots were to be printed Monday, but the county clerks in the district where Lewis hopes to run have agreed to extend the deadline. Lewis’s lawyer Bill Tambussi said that to pull his client off of the ballot would be unfair to voters because there isn’t enough time before the November election to find a new Democratic candidate.


But that’s not entirely true, the Associated Press reports. In 2002, New Jersey Democrats switched candidates running for the U.S. Senate 29 days before Election Day. The biggest difference is that voters didn’t have the option of voting early by mail.

(Photo: SHEN HONG/Xinhua/Landov)