Carl Lewis is back on New Jersey ballot

Carl Lewis' New Jersey residency is under debate.
Carl Lewis' New Jersey residency is under debate. (RON TARVER / Staff)
Posted: May 06, 2011

For the moment, Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis is back on the ballot as a Democratic candidate for a Burlington County state Senate seat, under an order issued Thursday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The court also sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman to determine whether New Jersey's four-year residency requirement for state Senate candidates violates the U.S. Constitution. Or, under the order, Hillman could leave it to the New Jersey Supreme Court to determine constitutionality.

Lewis, 49, of Medford, registered to vote in the Eighth District on April 11, the same day he filed nominating petitions to become a state Senate candidate in the June 7 primary.

On April 15, Burlington County Republicans sued to have him removed from the ballot, arguing that he was not a New Jersey resident for four years before becoming a candidate as required by the state constitution.

Since then, both sides have been fighting it out in court. An administrative law judge recommended that Lewis be on the ballot. Then Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, acting as the secretary of state, ruled April 26 that Lewis flunked the residency test. A state appeals panel upheld Guadagno on Monday.

Mark Sheridan, who represents the Burlington County Republicans, said Thursday's ruling was "just a stay of execution. Judge Hillman can throw him off again or the Supreme Court can throw him off again."

William Tambussi, who represents Lewis, said he wanted to have a fact-based hearing before the federal judge and could call on Guadagno to testify.

Just what constitutes residency for the purposes of running for state Senate is at issue, as well as whether the four-year requirement is constitutional.

Republicans have argued that Lewis voted in California in 2009 and owned homes and paid income taxes there, raising questions about whether he was a New Jersey resident.

Democrats argue that Lewis bought houses for himself and his mother in Mount Laurel in 2005 and began moving his personal property here. He has had a New Jersey drivers license since 2006.

Hearings have not yet been scheduled in either the federal or state courts, but both sides expect they could be scheduled Friday or Monday.


Contact staff writer Cynthia Burton at 856-779-3858 or cburton@phillynews.com.

 

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