US & Canada

New Jersey rejects Carl Lewis's bid for state Senate

Carl Lewis announcing his candidacy for a New Jersey Senate seat
Image caption Mr Lewis (centre) announced his intentions to run for New Jersey state Senate earlier this month

A top election official in the US state of New Jersey has ruled that nine-time Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis fails to meet the four-year residency requirement to run for elected office.

Secretary of State Kim Guadagno rejected the 49-year-old's bid to run for state Senate as a Democrat.

Ms Guadagno ordered that Mr Lewis's name be taken off the primary ballot.

Mr Lewis, a former sprinter and long-jumper, is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Mr Lewis had said he wanted to give something back to the southern New Jersey district where he grew up by running for the state Senate as a Democrat.

But Republicans challenged Mr Lewis's run, saying he had voted in California until recently.

Requirements not met

Ms Guadagno, a Republican who also serves as the state's lieutenant governor, overturned an earlier decision by an administrative law judge that said Mr Lewis should be allowed to run because Republicans had not proved Mr Lewis failed to meet the requirements.

"[Mr Lewis] did not yet own his home in New Jersey, did not otherwise live in New Jersey, did not file his taxes in New Jersey, was not registered to vote in New Jersey and did not have his business in New Jersey," Ms Guadagno said in her decision.

The former athlete, who had planned to run in the 8th legislative district now represented by Republican Dawn Addiego, will now have the opportunity to appeal Ms Guadagno's decision.

Mr Lewis told The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had attempted to talk him out of running for Senate. Mr Christie's office later said Mr Lewis had misunderstood the conversation.

On the track, Mr Lewis's greatest triumph was the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, where he won gold in the 100 and 200 metres, the long jump and the 4x100-metre relay.

He won two golds at each of the next two Olympic Games, and took his final Olympic title - his fourth straight Olympic gold in the long jump - at the Atlanta Games of 1996.

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