Richard Gere for Congress?

The New York Post’s gossip page reported on Friday that actor Richard Gere was “being talked up in Democratic circles” as a possible replacement for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York’s 18th Congressional District race if Maloney wins a primary for attorney general next month.

That was indeed a rumor that had been circulating, although it had yet to reach the ears of Orange County Democratic Chairman Brett Broge, whose county makes up half the district and would therefore play a leading role in picking a new House candidate if Maloney exits the race. Filling the vacancy appears to fall to the executive committees of the Democratic parties in the four counties in the 18th District.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” Broge said Friday. He said that Gere, who lives in Westchester County, “hasn’t reached out to party leaders, if that’s something he’s interested in doing.”

Maloney will compete with three other Democrats in a primary for attorney general on Sept. 13 and leave the congressional race if he wins, leaving less than two months for another Democrat to mount a campaign and raise money. Orange County Legislator Jim O’Donnell is the Republican candidate for the 18th District seat. So far, no likely Democratic substitute for Maloney has emerged. Maloney plans to seek a fourth House term in November if he doesn’t win the attorney general nomination.

Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano, who confirmed the Gere rumor in the Page Six item, told the Times Herald-Record that he hadn’t spoken to the actor, and that he knew of other potential candidates as well, including former Orange County Legislator Jeff Berkman. “I’m sure there’s a host of people jockeying behind the scenes,” he said.

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