Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney was all but guaranteed a new term in Congress representing the people of the Hudson River Valley whom he always says he respects and serves.

But it turns out that there is someone else he respects more, wants to serve more.

And that is Sean Patrick Maloney.

As he knows very well, the important fight in this election year is not the one to see which Democrat becomes the next attorney general of New York. Many qualified people are seeking that job. It is to see whether the Democrats can win enough seats to gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

That strategy depends on keeping seats that Democrats now have, one of them the one Maloney holds in the 18th Congressional District, an office that he had all but locked in.

Now, he will try to pursue a questionable legal strategy, running for both offices at the same time.

When someone wants to occupy the state’s highest legal office, starting off with questions about the legality of the effort is not smart.

By holding off on a commitment to one office or the other, Maloney delays the opportunity for someone else to run.

When someone allegedly believes that Democrats should regain control in the House, creating such an obstacle for a potential replacement is not fair.

And should Maloney win the nomination for attorney general, his would abandon the race for Congress and leave it up to Democratic Party committee leaders in the Hudson Valley to choose a last-minute replacement.

Maloney has an insurmountable amount of money in his campaign fund for a return to Congress, money that is not his to spend as he wishes. If he tries to use those funds for this new effort, every donor should demand a refund and, if necessary, go to court to collect.

This money was donated to help Maloney run for the 18th District seat, not attorney general. And it was not donated for somebody else to take over that campaign.

Unless he can pull some slick campaign funding trick, which is not wise for someone running for attorney general, he and the new candidate will have to start from scratch, a task he has made that much harder with his delayed decision.

No one knows who Candidate B might be or how he or she will be able to raise enough money. But we do know where Maloney will turn, to Wall Street whose interests he has served for as long as he has been in office.

The recent vote to whittle away at the protections created by the Dodd-Frank bill had Maloney’s unsurprising support. He has consistently worked to remove those protections while collecting large donations from the financial sector, those who created the nation’s latest financial crisis.

Are those the same “crooks in the corporate suites” he says he wants to fight as AG? Voters and the other candidates will want to know.