In November, Republican former Rep. Lee Zeldin become the closest GOP candidate for governor to wrest control back the governor's office in 20 years. 

On Monday, he did not rule out another run — or a campaign for Suffolk County executive or a bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand for that matter. 

"I do believe at some point there will be a re-entry to government," Zeldin said. "Exactly what that will be and when — we'll see."

Republicans came up short once again in last year's statewide elections. But they hope the results in otherwise Democratic-heavy New York in 2022 can be built on. 

Zeldin was in Albany on Monday to speak at the annual Conservative Party gathering. It's a meeting that comes as Republicans are trying to figure out their next steps after a stronger-than-usual showing in New York.

The party was able to flip multiple Democratic-held congressional seats, but continues to be shut out of power in New York statewide. To win again, Zeldin said Republicans need to try to win over more Democrats and independents.  

"Our candidates need to be communicating more with Democratic voters," Zeldin said. "We need to be spending more time inside of the cities. We need to start campaign earlier." 

Zeldin had hoped to do well in New York City, long a Democratic Party stronghold, by carrying an anti-crime platform into November. But he acknowledged the ongoing challenge to even get more than a third of the vote.  

"What we really need is to have an ability to get 35% of the vote in New York City and I spend a lot less time there," he said. 

Democrats are skeptical Republicans can mount the turnaround even after the 2022 election cycle, in which prominent national figures like President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Gov. Kathy Hochul. 

"If you want anybody new, never mind Democrats, to consider the Republican Party, you have to get them to straighten their act out," said state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs. "Right now, it's the party of nuts."

Hochul knocked Zeldin for his support for former President Donald Trump as well as his conservative stance on abortion rights. 

"Lee Zeldin's support Donald Trump, his really far right positions on abortion — I think a number of those issues hurt him and I think they hurt Republicans," said Democratic strategist Jack O'Donnell. 

Still, Republicans acknowledge they need to do more to grow the party in deep blue New York. 

"We have to understand that this is a diverse state and a candidate that might be strong in one area of the state may not be strong in another area of the state," said Michael Henry, the former candidate for state attorney general who is now running for state Republican chairman. "So we have to embrace the diversity."

Increasing the party's enrollment numbers, too, are a need: Republicans are outnumbered not just Democrats, but also voters who not registered for any of the ballot lines in New York. 

"What we have to do is work on our voter registration," Henry said. "I think we have to bring more independents, low propensity Democrats, to the Republican Party."