BY TOM HESTER SR.
Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis announced on Monday that he is running as a Democrat for state Senate in the 8th Legislative District in Burlington County.
Lewis, 49, will be challenging incumbent Sen. Dawn Addiego (R-Burlington) in the traditionally Republican district.
As the first step in preparing for his run, Lewis registered to vote. He said he has owned a house in New Jersey since 2005. He graduated from Willingboro High School.
State Democratic Party chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski welcomed the announcement Lewis is running.
“Carl Lewis has always been a leader who served the public and he will be a strong candidate in the 8th district,” Wisniewski said. “His dedication is evident and his past work transcends politics including involvement in charitable organizations, serving as (a) Goodwill Ambassador and efforts to help make our workforce stronger. We look forward to helping elect Carl Lewis so that he can serve the public as a member of the New Jersey Senate.”
Wisniewski did not offer a comment on Lewis needing to register to vote.
Lewis did not offer provide details of his platform, saying that he would make it available in the next few days. He did say he considers education an important issue.
Lewis also told reporters that he considers Republican Gov. Chris Christie a good friend, and that he does not intend to take part in partisan bickering.
Lewis won nine Olympic medals, including eight gold, in track and field competition. He describes himself as an actor and has appeared in numerous television shows and films including, “Perfect Strangers,” “Speed Zone,” and “Material Girl.”
“When I was athlete I also loved my competition,” Lewis said. He said he has not met Addiego but said he looks forward to speaking with her.
“I think I have a better message,” he said. “I'm going to be the people's candidate. I'm going to knock on as many doors as I can.”
In a related development, Essex Fells Republican Councilman William Sullivan will run for the state Senate seat held by Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) in the 27th District.
The district was reconfigured in the redistricting process to include parts of Republican Morris County, making it tougher for Codey, a former governor and 36-year legislator to gain re-election.
Chatham Township Mayor Nicole Hagner is seeking the Republican nomination for one of the district’s two Assembly seats. The seats are currently held by Assembly members John McKeon (D-Essex) and Mila Jasey (D-Essex).