Mr. Giuliani has told associates that he will decide on a candidacy within 30 to 60 days, as he weighs whether he can be elected statewide and what impact another campaign would have on his business interests.
He is already laying the groundwork. On Friday he traveled to Long Island to encourage the state Republican Party chairman, Joseph N. Mondello, to step aside, a maneuver that party insiders viewed as the former mayor’s most concrete step yet toward a run.
On Monday, Mr. Mondello announced his resignation, and Mr. Giuliani’s lieutenants were working the phones to drum up support for the replacement they prefer, the Niagara County Republican chairman, Henry F. Wojtaszek, a longtime supporter of Mr. Giuliani’s.
Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to sound out party leaders about a candidacy have also intensified. He has crisscrossed the state meeting with local officials; after a motivational speech to a paying audience in Buffalo last Tuesday, he met with local Republican leaders in a private meeting room to talk about the race. In recent weeks, he has also discussed his possible candidacy with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and met in Washington with Representative Peter T. King, a Republican who has considered running himself but said he would not if Mr. Giuliani became a candidate.
Mr. Giuliani declined to be interviewed, but several people who have spoken to him said he sees parallels between the current conditions in Albany and those in the city before his election as mayor. Voters were willing to take a chance on him then, he has said, in part because they were fed up with the dysfunction.
“Several times, he said to me that he sees state government similar to where New York City was in 1993: out of control,” said Mr. King, who met with Mr. Giuliani late last month at the Capitol Hill Club. “So many people are saying the state can’t be governed, which is what everyone was saying about the city then. In Rudy’s mind, this is a challenge.”
Mr. Giuliani suggested as much at a breakfast address sponsored by Crain’s New York in Manhattan this month.
“If I thought that I could make a real difference in the state, really change things and it really needed me, then I probably would do it,” he said then. If the state continues to deteriorate, he added, “maybe I’ll decide to run. We’ll see.”
Mr. Giuliani is unpredictable at times, and even his closest advisers cannot say for sure what he will do. One adviser said an announcement was likely to come after the Nov. 3 city election.
Running would probably mean the former mayor, 65, would have to give up his lucrative speaking engagements — each brings him tens of thousands of dollars, associates say — and once again step back from his two businesses, the large Texas-based law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, and the consulting firm Giuliani Partners, which he started with several of his former aides from the mayor’s office.
The consulting firm has suffered more noticeably from his electoral distractions; recent defections have included Mr. Giuliani’s former chief of staff, Anthony V. Carbonetti, who largely severed ties with the firm this year but was among the aides making calls in the wake of Mr. Mondello’s departure Monday.
And there are other calculations. His aides and other Republicans believe he could handily beat Gov. David A. Paterson; they cite any number of polls that have included hypothetical match-ups, as well as Mr. Paterson’s dismal approval numbers. Taking on Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who many Democrats hope will be the party’s candidate for governor in 2010, would be a more difficult test, the aides say.
In fact, rumblings about a Giuliani candidacy are already improving Mr. Cuomo’s stature among Democratic strategists, who believe he would be a far better candidate than Mr. Paterson to face Mr. Giuliani in the general election. Mr. Giuliani’s aides insist that his decision will not be influenced by Mr. Cuomo, who is not expected to decide about running for governor until next year.
“Rudy never did worry who his opponent is,” said Guy V. Molinari, the former Staten Island borough president. “If he decides to run, it won’t matter if Cuomo is the Democratic candidate.”
Mr. Molinari said that Mr. Giuliani visited him at his law office two weeks ago and that they discussed a potential governor’s run at some length.
“Watching him closely, when he hears me talking about how the people need him, that seems to be when his ears perk up,” he added. “I get the sense that if he felt that he’d be the one that could take on that task and turn things around up in Albany, he might consider running.”
In Buffalo last week, Mr. Giuliani met with a number of Republican officials after delivering a motivational speech at a local hockey arena.
“I got the impression that he is really seriously considering this,” said Assemblyman Bill Reilich, chairman of the Republican Party in Monroe County, adding, “If he had made up his mind, I don’t think the intensity of his questions would have been what they were and he would have continued the conversation as long as he did.”
Many Republicans are desperate for Mr. Giuliani to run. The only declared Republican candidate, former Representative Rick Lazio, has a thin political résumé and is best known for his failed run for the United States Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The first step for Mr. Giuliani is getting the party’s house in order. Mr. Mondello’s hold on the chairmanship has been tenuous since November, when the party lost the state Senate. He has recently been facing an aggressive challenge from Edward F. Cox, a lawyer and son-in-law of President Richard M. Nixon who was chairman of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in New York.
Mr. Giuliani would prefer to have Mr. Wojtaszek, an early supporter of his presidential campaign, as the state chairman.
“It’s not an anti-Ed Cox thing,” said a person close to the Giuliani camp. “It’s very much that Henry’s our friend.”
Mr. King suggested Mr. Giuliani would not bother to plunge into the state party fracas unless he was serious about running.
“That’s the worst part of politics,” Mr. King said. “No rational person wants to get involved in one of those fights unless you really have a motive to do it.”