Track Star Carl Lewis Seeks State Senate Seat in New Jersey

Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey are each counting on high-profile political newcomers to deliver them victories in legislative elections later this year.

This week, with the filing deadline for candidates imminent, New Jersey Democrats learned that they would be able to bring a big sports name to the relatively obscure politics of a state Senate election: Carl Lewis, the nine-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field. Though Lewis has spent most of his life in California, he grew up in New Jersey and is running in the legislative district that includes his former hometown, Willingboro."When I run, as you see from my record, I run to win," Lewis said, according to The Star Ledger of Newark . "My vision is inspiring people, bringing families together."

Last week, as Stateline noted , Republicans unveiled a big name of their own: Richard Kanka, the lobbying force behind many state and federal sex offender laws, who also announced his plans to run for the New Jersey Senate. After his 7-year-old daughter, Megan, was raped and killed in 1994, Kanka and his wife successfully petitioned lawmakers around the country to adopt "Megan's Law," which requires sex offenders to register with authorities and notify communities where they are living. Kanka has never held elected office.

Both Kanka and Lewis hope to take advantage of a new political map approved last week by New Jersey's redistricting commission

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