I’m as broken up about it as you are. The good news: Geraldo’s sufficiently in touch with reality to recognize “I’m the last person I believe Governor Christie will consider right now.” (He’d “definitely” take the call, though.) The bad news: We’ll apparently never know the many bloggy glories that a “Geraldo for Senate” campaign would have provided. One thing I don’t understand, though, is why Frank Lautenberg’s death would cause Geraldo to drop his flirtation with running. When he first announced in January that he was thinking of jumping in, he said, “Wondering how folks feel about me running in N.J. under GOP banner against either Lautenberg or Booker for U.S. Senate?” He wasn’t imagining a Senate vacancy before then; he was prepared to take on the incumbent Lautenberg or the up-and-comer Booker, who polled even better. (Lautenberg announced that he wouldn’t run again in 2014 two weeks later.) Maybe he came to believe that he could beat an 89-year-old incumbent but not Booker — although in that case, he should have dropped out once Lautenberg announced his retirement, no? Or am I taking this lame, Trump-ish “I’m running — maybe!” publicity stunt entirely too seriously?
Anyway, the more interesting electoral question is whom Christie will choose to appoint to Lautenberg’s vacant seat. He can’t possibly cross the aisle and name a Democrat, right? I think he has a better (but still small) chance than most people think to win the nomination in 2016, partly because he’ll do well with moderates while the conservative vote splits and partly because low-information voters might be drawn to his persona. We know only too well after the last two primaries that you don’t need to be a conservative to be the GOP’s nominee. You do have to be a Republican, though, and if he goes so far as to name a Democrat, that’ll hurt him I think even with GOP centrists; it’s a killer arrow in the attack on Christie for being an independent/Democrat in Republican clothing. My hunch is that he’ll name his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, to the vacancy and that she’ll vote with the Democrats on the key bills likely to hit the floor over the next year, from immigration to a renewed Toomey/Manchin background-check effort. Conservatives will hate that but low-information national Republicans will only know that he appointed a fellow GOPer when he had the chance. Box checked.