Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) vs. Colin Powell (search) in 2006?

That's the political heavyweight matchup envisioned by a Republican congressman who is urging the outgoing secretary of State to return to New York and challenge the first-term senator.

Rep. Vito Fossella (search) of New York said he spoke to Powell on Tuesday and made the case for the retired four-star general to enlist in the Republican Party's effort to defeat Clinton, a standard-bearer for the Democrats.

"His roots and heart have always been in New York. I think he'd make a great representative and I urge him strongly to consider running," Fossella said.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was born and raised in New York City.

Clinton's 2006 re-election bid is already drawing national attention, in part because of its implications for the 2008 presidential race. The former first lady is seen as an early front-runner among Democrats.

Two names often mentioned as potential GOP challengers to Clinton in 2006 are also considered possible presidential candidates two years later: former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (search) and New York Gov. George Pataki (search).

Fossella said he wants Powell to enter the race in part because he doubts that either Pataki or Giuliani is seriously weighing a campaign against Clinton.

"I don't see any inclination that either one will run at this point in time," Fossella said. "Whoever wants to run has got to start laying the seeds and setting the stage to do so."

A State Department spokeswoman cited Powell's comment Monday that he plans to return to private life. Officials in Clinton's office had no immediate comment.