Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (search) has had discussions with New York Republican officials about a possible run for governor or the U.S. Senate next year in the state where he has lived since 2000, a top GOP official said Sunday.

The party official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said there have been staff-level discussions between the two camps and direct conversations between at least one other top GOP official and Weld.

The primary interest is in Weld running for governor, the source said.

The talks between Weld and New York Republican officials were first reported on Sunday by New York Magazine in the issue of the weekly that hits newsstands on Monday. The magazine said Weld has been telling associates that GOP leaders approached him about running.

There was no immediate comment Sunday from Weld, a New York native; there was no response to a telephone message left at the Leeds Weld & Co. (search) private equity investment firm where he is a partner.

State GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik said Sunday that he had not met with Weld about running for statewide office in 2006 and would not comment further.

There has been much speculation in New York political circles that current Republican Gov. George Pataki (search) will not seek a fourth term next year and instead has his eyes set on a possible run for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, has announced that he is running for governor next year.

Without Pataki, some Republican leaders have expressed concern the party lacks a big-name contender to take on Spitzer. Earlier this month, Rudolph Giuliani's (search) top political aide said the former New York City mayor was too busy with business interests to run for governor or Senate next year.

Weld was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1990 and easily re-elected in 1994. He was defeated in a 1996 U.S. Senate race by Democratic incumbent John Kerry and resigned the next year after President Clinton tapped him to become U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. The nomination was blocked by Sen. Jesse Helms, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.