PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Former Olympic track star Carl Lewis won the first leg in his race to become a New Jersey state senator on Wednesday when a judge ruled in his favor on a Republican challenge to his candidacy.

State Administrative Judge John Schuster III recommended throwing out the challenge to Lewis' bid to represent Burlington County in the June 7 Democratic primary.

Republicans had challenged Lewis' candidacy on the grounds that he did not meet a requirement that candidates live in the state for at least four years before running.

Party leaders argued that Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals, voted in California in 2009, which according to California law meant he was living there at the time.

Schuster's recommendation for dismissal now goes to the New Jersey secretary of state's office for a final decision.

At an earlier hearing, Lewis told Schuster he bought two condominiums in Mt. Laurel, N.J., in 2005, one for himself and one for his mother. He stated that it was his intent at that time to become a state resident.

He also said that he has had a New Jersey driver's license since 2006.

Lewis, 49, declared his candidacy on April 11, saying he wanted to help families and children in the area in which he was raised.

He hopes to challenge Republican Sen. Dawn Addegio in the heavily Republican district some 25 miles east of Philadelphia.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; editing by Chris Michaud and Greg McCune)

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