"Despite what you say, to me it's a great experience being in the House," King said. "Being the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, I've been in a position to get a lot done for the city and the state. But I am looking at the statewide race."
The Long Island Republican had bowed out of the race, citing fundraising concerns. But what some in the GOP have perceived as an increasingly friendly political environment this fall may lure King into reversing his decision.
King told Newsday over the holidays that national Republicans have been pushing for him to enter the race.
King still cited money concerns and his top spot on the Homeland Security panel as mitigating factors in the race.
"But again, to do that, I'd have to give up the House seat. I'd have to run all over the state over the next year, when I couldn't really be doing anything for homeland security, and I'd have to raise about $30 or $40 million," he said. "Maybe to you that's chump change, but to me, that's more than a few bucks."
The veteran lawmaker has made the rounds on TV after an attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day, chiding the Obama administration for its response to the attack. That public profile could elevate him above some other potential GOP contenders for the seat.
Gillibrand has been plagued by poor, but improving, reelection numbers since taking office in 2009. According to a mid-December Siena poll, 30 percent of New Yorkers say she deserves reelection, while 34 percent prefer someone else.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) is seen as a potential candidate against Gillibrand as well, and looked to be within striking distance in the same Siena poll. Gillibrand led the former governor 46-43 percent.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) had tested even better against Gillibrand, though he has sent signals that he's unlikely to run for any statewide office in 2010.
King's viability against Gillibrand was last tested in a late-August poll, also conducted by Siena. Forty-six percent of New Yorkers said they'd vote for Gillibrand, while 24 percent said they would prefer King. Thirty percent didn't know or had no opinion.
The August poll, conducted Aug. 17-20, had a 3.9 percent margin of error. The December poll, conducted Dec. 6-9, had a 3.8 percent margin of error.