Don Brash, the man who forced Rodney Hide out of his job as Act leader, approached him recently to urge him to return to the party leadership and to run for Act in Epsom.
Dr Brash told the Herald that Mr Hide was not interested at the time but the approach was made before current leader John Banks announced he would step down in February and would not stand at the 2014 election.
Mr Hide has been uncharacteristically silent on the issue, refusing to rule himself out or say whether he is considering it.
Dr Brash said there was some irony in him trying to get Mr Hide back into Act but said: "I didn't push him out in 2011 because I thought he was incompetent. But I thought his reputation at that point was such that he was unlikely to be able to hold Epsom and, if he didn't hold Epsom, Act was gone."
Dr Brash said that while there were some negatives around Mr Hide, there were some important positives.
"He is well known. He has got a profile. Yes, he blotted his copybook taking his then girlfriend [now wife] on an international trip. But, of course, that wasn't in breach of the law and it wasn't even in breach of parliamentary rules.
"He has got the advantage of being a very good communicator. He writes well. He speaks well and has an existing profile."
Act president John Boscawen said last night there had been only one nomination so far, that of Jamie Whyte, who has recently returned from Britain where he was a management consultant for Oliver Wymann and the Boston Consulting Group. He is also a former foreign currency trader and a former philosophy lecturer at Cambridge University.
Dr Brash said that as National leader in 2005 he had tried to persuade Mr Whyte to stand for National but he had not been ready to come home.
Dr Brash believed that Act could and should be saved.
"There is no doubt about that. New Zealand needs a party which believes in the market, believes in smaller government. It is very hard to see the National Government reflecting that view at the moment."
Act had achieved some useful policies, such as partnership schools (also known as charter schools) and the Productivity Commission. "I think there is a need for a party with those views and can it be saved? I think the answer is yes but it requires an able and charismatic leader."
He said the survival of Act would probably be affected if a new liberal party was launched but he did not know if that would happen.
A bid for the seat has been ruled out by Mr Boscawen, former president Catherine Isaac and former Auckland Central candidate David Seymour.