As predicted, Bridgegate is morphing into a steady drip of scandal accusations. The latest comes from nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, who tells NJ.com that he was in talks to become a “youth fitness ambassador” for New Jersey three years ago, but the plan was scrapped when he decided to run against Chris Christie’s friend, Republican state Senator Dawn Addiego. Lewis claims Christie personally pressured him not to enter the race. “When I started to run, when he talked to me on the phone that night, he said ‘If you run, we’re going to have to cancel the program,‘“Lewis said. “I felt like he was trying to intimidate me, absolutely. But I definitely didn’t feel intimidated.”
Barring someone from representing the state in a volunteer position after they enter partisan politics doesn’t sound unreasonable, but it’s still a messy situation. Republicans challenged Lewis’s candidacy by saying he didn’t meet residency requirements, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (a key player in the Hoboken Sandy aid scandal) allegedly kicked him off the ballot in the ensuing legal battle. Lewis withdrew from the race after state and federal courts ruled against him.
At the very least, one side isn’t telling the truth about the conversation between Lewis and Christie. When the Olympian claimed in 2011 that the governor urged him to drop out, the Christie administration hit back hard. “Absolutely, positively not. And anybody who says otherwise is lying,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.