Now an Olympic Great Is Claiming He Felt Political Pressure From Chris Christie

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 21 2014 9:49 AM

Who's Accusing Christie of Political Bullying Now? Carl Lewis.

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Carl Lewis of the USA watches the scoreboard after winning his 100m heat in 1984 in Los Angeles. Lewis later won the gold medal in 9.99 sec, to go along with his three other gold medals in the long jump, the 200m and the 4x100m relay, equalling the record of compatriot Jesse Owens set in Berlin in 1936

Photo by STAFF/AFP/GettyImages

Chris Christie will take his oath of office later Tuesday, kicking off his second term as New Jersey governor. Meanwhile, the allegations of the Republican's political bullying continue to mount. The latest comes from a rather unusual source: Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis. Lewis, you may remember, briefly flirted with the idea of running for New Jersey state Senate in 2011 as a Democrat. At the time, he says, he was also close to being tapped by Christie as the state's first physical fitness ambassador. You can probably guess what Lewis alleges happened next. If not, here's the Associated Press with the details:

Lewis said Monday the governor called to dissuade him from running as a Democrat for state Senate in 2011 against Republican Sen. Dawn Addiego [a Christie friend]. Lewis says he was told the fitness program they'd been developing wouldn't materialize if he ran. Lewis says the governor felt the post "was a carrot he could pull away."
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In the end, Lewis' campaign never left the official starting blocks—not because of Christie, but because a federal appeals court that ruled that the track star didn't meet the Garden State's four-year residency requirement. In the grand scheme of things, this feels more like a footnote to the ongoing bridge scandal Christie's now dealing with than anything else. Still, it's not going to make life on Christie any easier as he and his staff look to do damage control to keep his 2016 ambitions alive.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.