Olympian Carl Lewis quits state senate race in New Jersey

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Olympic track star Carl Lewis ended his run for the state senate in New Jersey on Friday after a federal appeals court ruled against him.

Carl Lewis (C), nine-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), arrives at a school in Port-au-Prince June 13, 2011. REUTERS/Swoan Parker

Lewis, 50, winner of nine Olympic gold medals, told a press conference in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, that he would not appeal a decision issued on Thursday by a panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The panel declared that he failed to prove unequal treatment by New Jersey when it applied a four-year state residency requirement to his run for state senate.

The issue of residency had dogged Lewis, who wanted to run as the Democratic contender in heavily Republican Burlington County, almost from the moment he declared his candidacy in April.

The appeals court ruled on Thursday that New Jersey requires residency for four years to run for the senate, but Lewis voted in California in 2008 and 2009, and would have been required to live there if he voted there.

His campaign manager, Chris Walker, said Friday that Lewis has no intention of appealing the decision any further or running for the senate this year.

As for the future, Lewis intends to remain in New Jersey, where he grew up attending Willingboro High School, which is now tapping his skills as a volunteer track coach, Walker said.

“He lives here, he owns a home here,” said Walker.

Lewis also intends to run the Carl Lewis Foundation, which raises money for school programs and children, said Walker, who is also the foundation’s executive director.

In addition, Lewis will continue working on food and agriculture issues with the United Nations, and with a group that provides support for people with intellectual disabilities.

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton