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We ask this question above because it's appearing more and more likely that Mike Richter, the former New York Rangers goalie who helped backstop them to their 1994 Stanley Cup championship, could finally get his political career going in Essex County, NY.

Gov. David Patterson's appointment of Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, so her 20th District seat in upstate New York is vacant. According to Poststar.com in Glens Falls, Richter's first run for elective office could be for that seat:

To N.Y. sports fans, the most intriguing name is that of former NHL goalie Mike Richter. The 42-year-old hung up his skates in 2003, returned to college and graduated from Yale University in 2007. Richter, a Democrat, reportedly owns a home in Essex County, which is located in the 20th Congressional District and has flirted with political aspirations in the past.

It is not exactly clear who threw Richter's proverbial helmet into the political ring this time around, but those rumors have, at least to this point refused to die. Essex County Democratic Chairwoman Sue Montgomery Corey said she has heard the rumors. "I haven't talked with him at all and his is one of the many names out there," Corey said on Monday

Richter's potential candidacy has already sparked some jovial sparring, with a Republican saying his party will recruit Eric Lindros to run against him (despite the whole Canadian citizenship thing.)

Fun aside, let's face it: You win the first Stanley Cup for the Rangers in 54 years, and you've got a pretty darn good chance at getting elected in New York. Outside of Long Island, of course.

After his playing career ended in 2002-03, Richter attended Yale University and graduated in 2007 after majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics. Richter previously flirted with the idea of running for public office in 2007, and has been outspoken about politics before. From USA Today:

In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Richter criticized President Bush's comment that Osama bin Laden was wanted "dead or alive."

"I think that was entirely inappropriate - I think it was sickening actually," Richter told Newsday at the time. "This is no cowboy movie. This is not something to be glib about."

Richter worked last year for U.S. Rep. John Hall, a Democrat and former musician who upset six-term incumbent Republican Sue Kelly in upstate New York. Richter helped

Hall, who opposed the Iraq war, win over police officers, fire fighters and other constituents who might not have otherwise voted for him, said Tom Staudter, Hall's spokesman. "He was hugely popular," Staudter said, describing Richter as bright and friendly. "He'll be great."

In a sign of his status, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani named his dog "Goalie" after Richter.

(Did anyone else read that wrong at first and think that Richter worked for Daryl Hall? We did.)

Obviously, our celebrity-obsessed culture spills over into the electorate, as we saw in the 2008 Presidential campaign and in previous elections. How many people do you think cast a vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger based on the assumption that a robot from the future would use hindsight in policymaking? Exactly.

Richter's got the Rangers number retirement thing, the Stanley Cup thing, the Team USA thing. He's pretty much a slam-dunk candidate at that level of government in upstate New York.

After that, who knows? Maybe he joins political forces with John Vanbiesbrouck, and Rangers fans endlessly argue who belongs at the top of the ticket. Or maybe in a few years, Richter, John Kerry and Sarah Palin will be knocking back brews and arguing Mario vs. Gretzky in the Senate longue. Or not.

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