Aug 23, 2011

 
 
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A Republican official says a freshman New Jersey lawmaker resigned because his wife sent "an offensive and racist" email to the Democratic state Senate campaign of nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis.

Burlington County Republican Chairman Bill Layton acknowledged Monday that Pat Delany stepped down from the Assembly this month because of his wife's missive to Lewis' campaign.

The Delanys are white. Lewis is black.

Jennifer Delany's email, which was published Monday on PolitickerNJ.com, said, "Imagine having dark skin and name recognition and the nerve to think that equalled knowing something about politics."

Upon discovering the message, Layton says, Pat Delany brought it to his attention and decided to resign from office Aug. 12 to shield his children from "a hurtful and embarrassing public spectacle involving their mother."

"I am deeply disappointed in my wife's decision to send that email to Mr. Lewis' campaign; it does not reflect my personal beliefs whatsoever," Pat Delaney said in a statement. "In an attempt to repair the serious damage this has caused to our marriage and to protect our kids from public humiliation, I decided to leave public life. On behalf of my family, we sincerely apologize to Mr. Lewis for any pain this caused him."

Layton reportedly told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he "was very clear with Pat from the beginning that if he chose to stay on the ballot, the Burlington County Republican Party would have withdrawn our support."

"The Burlington County Republican Party has a proud tradition of being the most inclusive, diverse Republican organization in the state, and it's something we are extremely proud of," said Layton. "On behalf of the party, I offer Mr. Lewis our apologies for any pain this issue may cause him or his family, and we stand with all Burlington County residents who believe this kind of language has no place in society or in public discourse."

Lewis is running for state Senate in New Jersey's 8th Legislative District. Delany was part of the opposing GOP Assembly slate in the district.

Lewis and Republicans have been fighting over whether he meets the state's four-year residency requirement for state Senate candidates. He grew up in Willingboro, a middle-class town between Philadelphia and Trenton, but recently has lived in California, where he owns a home.

He went to Texas for college and in 1984 moved from track star to celebrity when he won four gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympics. Over the next 12 years, he would collect five more golds at the Olympics.

New Jersey's top elections official, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, ruled Lewis ineligible to run for office this spring, and this month she declined to certify his name for the November ballot.

Lewis, 50, challenged the ruling in federal and state courts.

A federal appeals court allowed Lewis' name to appear on June primary ballots, and he won his party's nomination with 2,418 votes in an uncontested race. Republican Sen. Dawn Addiego won her uncontested party primary with 4,350 votes, and the two would face off in the GOP-leaning district in November, if the courts allow.

Lewis 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.

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

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