MOUNT HOLLY, N.J (Reuters) - Olympic track superstar Carl Lewis jumped into a race for New Jersey state Senate on Monday, saying he wanted to help struggling children, families and seniors in the region where he grew up.
Lewis, 49, announced that he will be running as a Democrat to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Dawn Addiego in the heavily Republican area about 25 miles east of Philadelphia.
"When I run -- you can see my record -- I run to win," Lewis told a news conference outside Mount Holly's historic courthouse.
Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, has been living in the state where he grew up since 2005.
A political novice, Lewis said he was running to help young people, improve education and aid senior citizens. A detailed platform will be coming soon, he said.
"My focus will be on children, on the future," he said. "We cannot rest until we make sure that our families can afford to live and raise their kids here, that our seniors can remain in their homes and afford their health and pharmaceutical costs."
He quoted his late father, choking up as he said he had been told: "Do what you think is right. Follow your head."
Lewis cut off questions from the media, saying he had to get to track practice at the high school in nearby Willingboro, where he grew up. He serves as a volunteer coach.
Lewis is considered one of the best track and field athletes ever produced by the United States. He won Olympic gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and sprint relay.
(Reporting by Dave Warner, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)