NEW YORK

The reporter has never been much of a coupon clipper, so when the chance arises to, say, snip a boxtop from Purina Cat Chow and get a "Water-Water-Water" bowl, she has let it, like so many opportunities in life, slide away.

The opportunity to send away and get a Governor-Governor-Governor is something else again. A Governor-Governor-Governor is always a useful thing for a state to have, particularly in New York, where Hugh Carey last month decided not to run, and there are so many parades. So, when the New York Post began its Koch for Governor coupon campaign, the reporter of course went wild and cut it out.

It was something of a disappointment. Coupons, the reporter feels, should offer some choice. I want a large governor versus a small, perhaps, or I'd like my governor green, but the coupon offered by the New York Post offered no choice.

"I think Ed Koch is the best person to be governor of New York," it said, with, of course, a picture of the mayor and a little printed pair of scissors and a dotted line.

There was no warranty should one be disappointed in the product after 30 days; no guarantee of its effectiveness in eradicating political dirt. And yet, after about two weeks of the campaign, the Post claimed to have received 14,047 coupons asking for a Koch with only 370 opposing it. There was also some criticism outside the Post, particularly at Koch's old bete noir, The Village Voice. They ran their own little coupon. "Impeach Governor Koch," it said.

One day after the Voice coupon hit, Editor David Schneiderman cheerfully reported the paper had received 62,000 replies in one morning.

"We expect close to a million by the end of the week," said Schneiderman. "Look, our numbers are as good as their numbers."

At the center of this is, of course, the mayor, who has not even announced he is planning to run for governor.

He is an awfully popular fellow here and was elected last November with the endorsements of both the Republican and Democratic parties for his second term. Nationally well known, too. A recent issue of Harper's Bazaar, one of those that features bachelors who are not dead, showed him surrounded by girls, his schnozz and pate now having become a symbol of the Apple.

In a recent actors' benefit at Radio City, he put on white tie and tails and joined Ethel Merman for a song and dance. Since John Lindsay, political observers have noted that the Apple's most popular mayors always sing and dance.

Then, of course, there's his famous mouth. Feuding with the United Nations last week--he disapproves of its stance on Israel--the mayor said it could leave the city for all he cared. When Pravda criticized him he referred to them, with a combative zest New Yorkers admire, as "those Red nuts."

"I don't like them and they don't like me and that's terrific," he said.

On running for governor, however, he has been uncharacteristically restrained. In a recent chat at City Hall he said the Post campaign had been started without his knowledge, that he learned of it when returning from vacation and was "just tickled pink."

He declined comment on the Post's journalistic ethics in touting Koch and Koch only: "You the media have to take them up among yourselves; it's not in my field."

He said that he was considering the gubernatorial bid for two reasons: the withdrawal of Carey and the belief that "we can no longer look to Washington for budgetary support. It's even more crucial to have someone as governor who understands and supports the needs of the localities of this state, one of which is New York City."

He said that no, he did not feel that he would almost have to agree to run for office, having said that he would consider it for a month while the Post carries on an aggressive Draft Koch campaign.

"Should I make a decision in 48 hours to satisfy you?" he said.

Shortly thereafter he waltzed off.

Should Koch decide to run, a decision due next week, there will be those who are irritated. They will include not only people like Voice editor Schneiderman, who says that it's "a very cynical way for a man to use public office . . . to change his mind two months after being elected," but also people like Republican State Committee Chairman George Clark. Clark claims Koch told him before he received the Republican nomination this fall that he would run for no other offices. Koch has denied that such a promise was made.

Koch does acknowledge, however, a light-hearted remark he made about political ambitions after a trip to Jerusalem.

"I said I had taken a vow in front of the Western Wall that I would never run for any other position," he said. "I had not really taken such a vow, but I wanted to sum up my feelings at the time."

Naturally, when he said he was considering the governor's race, reporters reminded him of the oath.

He was not tongue-tied.

"I said , 'Well, it was true. I violated my promise to God and if he wanted to punish me he would make me governor.'"