Friday, September 23, 2011

Carl Lewis: Where was the due diligence?

So, it looks like this is the end of the road for the on again, off again, on again, off again, doomed-to-fail campaign of former Olympic gold medalist and Willingboro, NJ hometown hero Carl Lewis. On Thursday, 9/22, a three member panel of the the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied Lewis' eligibility to serve in the State Senate because he does not meet the residency requirements.

I am not a political professional. I am an accountant by trade, and I specialize in auditing. In the course of my work, when about to embark on a audit, the first thing we do is a risk assessment on the area being reviewed. We start by asking, "What can go wrong?". Brainstorm the scenarios from worst case to least bad. From there, we construct our plan.

I would think that a person considering running for political office, or encouraging another to run for office, would do a similar due diligence. I would be wrong.

Apparently, the geniuses in the Democratic party of New Jersey did not bother to do this due diligence when they drafted Mr. Lewis to run for Senate. I was excited about his candidacy and hopeful to see a Democrat take a seat that had historically been Republican. However, when I learned that Lewis, although he has owned homes in Burlington County, New Jersey since 2006, had for the most part lived in California, and voted in California in 2009, my hopes sunk.

Why? Because I knew that the Republicans would do everything they could to get Lewis tossed off the ballot based on non-residency. The decision was first made by Lt Governor Kim Guadagno, in her dual role as Secretary of State. At the time, I criticized this decision as that of a partisan hack acting in the interests of her party, and not the state. I said if the decision were made by a court of law I could accept it.

After numerous appeals, Lewis' candidacy was a go, then a no-go, then (I've lost track), but now the Court has ruled and it's a done deal.

So, now what do we do?

If a dumb guy like me could see this coming, how could the Democrats who drafted Carl Lewis not have seen this coming? A simple due diligence exercise would entail asking Mr. Lewis if there was any reason he thought he would not meet the residency requirements, anticipating a Republican challenge. If Lewis cited his 2009 voting in California as a potential issue, his sponsors should have been ready to answer this legitimate concern, planned how to fight it, and have a Plan B in case the Lewis candidacy did not work out.

Instead, we now have no Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 8th Legislative District. Once again, the Democrats find themselves outmaneuvered by the Republicans. Why? Because Republicans fight, and Democrats bend over and take it.

When will we learn?

Note to Governor Christie:
When you learned about Carl Lewis' potential candidacy, you had one of your aides call Lewis and threaten to withhold funding from his youth athletic foundation. Now that Lewis is no longer a candidate and the Senate seat is safely Republican, is your funding for the program back on the table?

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