HAMILTON - (AP) - Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis told ajudge weighing his eligibility to run for New Jersey Senate onTuesday that he has owned homes in the state since 2005 and has hada valid state driver's license since 2006.
Republicans have challenged Lewis' bid to run as a Democrat insouth-central New Jersey's 8th Legislative District. They claim hehas not lived in the state the required four years and want hisname knocked off the June primary ballot.
The 49-year-old internationally acclaimed track and fieldathlete is a New Jersey native but has been living in California;it's his first time seeking elected office.
"I wholeheartedly intend to be a resident of New Jersey,"Lewis told the judge. "Sometimes I question it during the winter,having lived in California, but I'm here to stay."
Lewis' lawyer Bill Tambussi portrayed his client during theadministrative hearing as a man who has chosen to return to theplace he was raised, to be near family and to serve the public.
Lewis has moved the day-to-day operations of his charitablefoundation to New Jersey and has been a volunteer track coach andmentor at a local high school since 2007. His mother and otherrelatives live nearby.
Mark Errico, a lawyer for the Republicans, tried to show thatowning real estate in New Jersey doesn't make someone a resident.
Lewis acknowledged under questioning that he voted in Californiauntil last year and paid income taxes there until recently. Hiswebsite listed his addresses as Houston and California as recentlyas this month. He said he still owns a town house in California andhas kept his business there.
He said he switched his voter registration to New Jersey lastweek, on the day he announced his candidacy.
Lewis, wearing a suit and tie, answered questions for nearly twohours on everything from who pays the utility bills at hisproperties (he does, unless they're rental properties) to why histruck is registered in Texas (his foundation sponsors youthprograms around the country; volunteers use the truck to cartaround the children who participate).
Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and is considered among thebest athletes of all time.
In Los Angeles in 1984, he won gold in the 100 and 200 meters,long jump and 400-meter relay. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, hetriumphed in the 100 meters and long jump. In the 1992 Games inBarcelona, he took the long jump and anchored the U.S. 400 relayteam that won in world record time. He won his fourth straightOlympic gold in the long jump in 1996 in Atlanta.
He is a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame and wasinducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame last May.
Administrative Law Judge John Schuster will make arecommendation on Wednesday to Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, whowill decide by Thursday. Her ruling can be appealed.
Lewis would face Republican Dawn Adeggio in November.
Carl Lewis to announce his 'political plans' in NJ