Image: Former American track and field star Carl Lewis
Eduardo Munoz  /  Reuters, file
Former American track and field star Carl Lewis speaks to local media during a visit to a children's library in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, on June 10. Lewis, who is seeking to join the race for a state Senate seat in New Jersey, was acting as the Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
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updated 8/19/2011 5:08:14 PM ET 2011-08-19T21:08:14

A federal judge says he won't rule immediately on whether Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis can run for elected office in New Jersey.

Judge Noel Hillman says Lewis isn't being harmed at the moment by an election official's decision to keep his name off the November ballot.

The judge says he'll rule before the Sept. 8 deadline for submission of ballot information.

Secretary of State Kim Guadagno this week said Lewis doesn't meet New Jersey's 4-year residency requirement for state Senate candidates.

Lewis grew up in New Jersey but lived in California after amassing gold medals in three consecutive Olympics beginning in 1984. He contends he moved back to New Jersey in 2005 when he bought homes for himself and his mother.

Lawyers for Lewis, 50, argue that it should be up to voters to decide whether to elect the track icon or his opponent, incumbent GOP Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, to represent New Jersey's 8th legislative district.

Lewis lawyer Bill Tambussi called for a hearing before a judge already assigned to review the case.

Months-long contest
The hearing marks the latest in a months-long political contest over whether the track icon is eligible to run for office in his native state.

Lewis, who grew up in Willingboro, a middle-class town between Philadelphia and Trenton, went to Texas for college and lived in California after amassing gold medals in three consecutive Olympics beginning in Los Angeles in 1984.

He contends he moved back to New Jersey in 2005 when he bought homes for himself and his mother.

He has been a volunteer high school track coach since 2007 and has had a valid New Jersey driver's license since 2006.

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However, records show that he voted in California through 2009, which the state contends made him a legal resident of that state.

He has homes in Medford and Mount Laurel in New Jersey, and Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Lewis won uncontested primary
Lewis said Republican Gov. Chris Christie urged him not to get into the race.

This week he said he believes Christie is orchestrating the effort to keep his name off the ballot.

Christie said Lewis should have lived in the state four years before declaring his candidacy for office.

A federal appeals panel ordered Lewis' name to appear on the Democratic primary for the 8th legislative district while his case wound its way through the courts.

He and Addiego both won uncontested party primaries in June.

Lewis exhausted his appeals in state court when the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The issue ultimately before the federal court is whether the state's residency requirement for state Senate candidates violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment as applied to Lewis.

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