Chris Christie ‘intimidated’ me, says Olympics legend Carl Lewis

 

Chris Christie, the embattled governor of New Jersey whose hopes for presidential nomination have been hit by revelations of alleged politically-motivated lane closures and misspending of federal aid, was dealt a new blow last night after the former Olympic sprint and long jump champion Carl Lewis accused him of “intimidation”.

The nine-time Olympic gold medallist alleges that Mr Christie ditched a plan to appoint Mr Lewis as New Jersey’s first physical fitness ambassador after he launched a political campaign against Republican Senator Dawn Addiego – a friend of the governor’s. According to Mr Lewis, Mr Christie called him to dissuade him from running as a Democrat for state Senate in 2011 – and that doing so meant the fitness programme the pair had been developing for nearly a year would not materialise if he continued. Mr Lewis says the governor felt the post "was a carrot he could pull away."

“I felt like he was trying to intimidate me, absolutely. But I definitely didn’t feel intimidated,” Mr Lewis told New Jersey’s ‘Star Ledger’. He added: "It’s interesting, everyone calling him a bully. I don’t really see him as a bully. I see it more as someone who’s insecure, and he’s governor now and has got the power."

Despite the pressure, Mr Lewis declared his candidacy in 2011. But the campaign failed to get off the ground, mired in legal challenges.  Mr Lewis subsequently withdrew from the Senate race after a court ruled he didn't meet a residency requirement.

According to Carl Lewis, Mr Christie called him to dissuade him from running as a Democrat for state Senate in 2011 – and that doing so meant the fitness programme the pair had been developing for nearly a year would not materialise if he continued According to Carl Lewis, Mr Christie called him to dissuade him from running as a Democrat for state Senate in 2011 – and that doing so meant the fitness programme the pair had been developing for nearly a year would not materialise if he continued  

Mr Lewis has since moved to Texas. But this latest allegation, news of which broke in America on Monday evening, is the latest in a string that is threatening to derail the career prospects of a Governor once considered as a shoo-in for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

On Saturday Dawn Zimmer, the Democrat mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, claimed that two of Christie's close aides had threatened to withhold relief funds from her city if she continued to oppose a major property development plan backed by the Governor. Christie aides expressed shock at the allegations, insisting the mayor and the Governor had worked together well.

Mr Christie, who recaptured his governorship last November in a landslide victory, has been on the defensive since the start of this year after private emails published showed that a fired aide, Bridget Kelly, ordered needless road closures that caused days of jams last September in Fort Lee, whose mayor Mark Sokolich had refused to endorse Mr Christie's re-election as governor. They contradicted Mr Christie's angry denials last month that his team was behind the closures, which were explained as a "traffic safety study". The Governor’s office has yet to comment on the latest allegations.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Designer

£32969 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Engineer

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Data Engineer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence