If Lewis wants in on the race, he and the Democrats would have to file a nominating petition with 100 Democratic signatures by the close of business Monday. The district encompasses much of Burlington County but also a handful of towns in Camden and Atlantic Counties.
"I have a feeling that this kind of question is going to come down to the wire," said Conaway, who represents the neighboring Seventh District. He did not know of any other potential Democratic candidates.
Lewis, 50, who did not speak to a reporter stationed outside his Medford home for much of the day Friday, won nine gold medals and one silver for five U.S. Olympic track and field teams. He was voted Sportsman of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.
Since retiring from the sport after the 1996 Olympics, Lewis has been involved with charities and has worked as an actor. He also started a website, fitforever.com.
Born in Alabama, Lewis was raised in New Jersey and was a track star at Willingboro High School. He returned to South Jersey from the West Coast a few years ago. He bought a house on three acres down a long driveway on a Medford cul-de-sac for $1.1 million, property records show.
Mayor Eldridge Hawkins Jr. of Orange, Essex County, who has worked with Lewis, said he did not know of Lewis' plans but would endorse him if he had political ambitions.
Several years ago Hawkins was director of operations for the Carl Lewis Fund, now defunct, which helped teens prepare for the workforce.
"It was certainly a privilege to work with [Lewis] in that capacity," Hawkins said. "He is a public servant whether or not he's in any office, and he's shown that in how he's conducted himself as a professional and a celebrity and a role model for others."
Contact staff writer Matt Katz at 609-217-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquirer staff writers Darran Simon and Maya Rao contributed to this article.