Representative Jesus "Chuy" Garcia spoke briefly Wednesday about what is delaying his decision.
"In all seriousness, I am conflicted because of the responsibility that I have to help save and protect our democracy and our republic," Garcia said.
"The threat against our democracy remains so violent. We’ve been hanging by a thread for the past year now or so. So I’m conflicted," he added.
Garcia — a longtime local politician and community organizer — represents the state’s 4th district at the federal level.
In the 2015 elections, Garcia forced then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff.
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson says he is also exploring a possible run for Chicago mayor.
Both Johnson and Garcia say a final decision will be announced in the coming weeks. The municipal election is in February.
Garcia pointed to Lightfoot’s 25% approval rating in polls done for other candidates and for two heavy-hitters who passed on the mayor’s race: U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) and former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"She’s got a tough climb — a very tough climb," he said.
But the congressman acknowledged he is "conflicted." He finds his job in Congress "exhilarating." He "totally understands" why Harold Washington was "so reluctant to leave" to run for mayor.
"The historic and landmark legislation that we passed. My great desire to be a member of Congress when immigration reform finally becomes a reality makes it so difficult," he said.
"My wife is not a yes. That weighs heavily on me. And I haven’t seen any polling that’s included me in the mix. … That could be another factor that influences my decision."
Mayoral candidates started circulating nominating petitions last week. The deadline for filing petitions signed by at least 12,500 registered Chicago voters is Nov. 28 — and candidates typically submit three times that to avoid petition challenges.
"The last time I ran, I filed more petitions than Rahm Emanuel, who was paying for signatures. So the network is large. That would not be a concern," he said.
"I’ve got to decide soon. But I don’t want to pressure myself. I want to be as deliberate and as understanding of all of the issues that are facing the city of Chicago. The public safety challenges. The promise of new endeavors in the area of public safety is pretty exciting, given my background in violence prevention and intervention and community building. My network of community builders throughout Chicago."
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.