N.J. Democrats stick with Carl Lewis as their candidate for state Senate

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday on the battle of Olympian Carl Lewis to get back on the ballot in New Jersey. A federal judge disqualified Lewis from running for the state Senate because he doesn’t meet the state’s four-year residency requirement.

Democrats are sticking with the Olympic gold medal winner as their candidate in the 8th Legislative District.

Political analysts have differing views on the wisdom of that decision.

Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison says Democratic leaders risk having no candidate in November.

“This has happened in the past and, typically, what the party faithful has done is written in a candidate if in fact Mr. Lewis is not permitted to run,” Harrison said. “The danger though, of course, is that takes a lot of organization.”

Fairleigh Dickinson political scientist Peter Woolley said the Democrats have nothing to lose.

“If they don’t have Carl Lewis, they are certainly going to lose the district,” he said. “With Carl Lewis, they have a chance of pulling out that race in a very Republican district.”

Brigid Harrison said the appeal conceivably could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Given the fact that they don’t at least publicly have a plan B or at least another candidate waiting in t he wings who has the appropriate petitions ready to be filed would indicate that may their legal strategy, that they’re going to take this all the way,” she said.

Lewis, a native of Willingboro, owns a home in the South Jersey town. He was taken off the ballot by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno for failing to meet the state’s four-year residency requirement to run for office.

Although he has been a volunteer track coach in Willingboro since 2007, he voted in California as recently as 2009. He switched his voter registration to New Jersey just before declaring his candidacy in April.

Analysts say if Lewis is able to challenge Republican incumbent Dawn Addiego, it will be one of only a handful of competitive legislative races.

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