Boy, I sure am. If there’s one thing the GOP needs now, it’s another senator who’s famously soft on immigration. Imagine these words ringing off the walls in the Senate chamber: “[A]ny Latino who votes for a Republican or a Democrat who opposes rational immigration reform is an Uncle Tom.” He’ll make a fine third in the McCain/Graham alliance.
“I mention this only briefly, fasten your seatbelt,” Rivera said on his radio show. “I mentioned this only briefly to my wife … but I am and I’ve been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker.”…
“I’m not going to drill this out, because obviously I’ve got commitments to Fox and to here at the radio program and I’m really having a great time,” Rivera added. “But I figure at my age, if I’m going to do it I’ve got to do it. And there doesn’t seem to be any Republicans ready to work against or run against Corey Booker, the popular Newark mayor.”
Rivera could face a tough primary challenge, however, with reports suggesting that Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick of Westfield, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are all weighing bids for the GOP ticket.
No, the part about him running as a Republican is no typo:
Wondering how folks feel about me running in N.J. under GOP banner against either Lautenberg or Booker for U.S. Senate?
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) January 31, 2013
To give you a sense of the trouble he’ll have being taken seriously, CNN’s headline for this story is “Geraldo Rivera has campaign plans in the vault.” Two things here. One: Isn’t he a little old to break into politics? He’ll be 70 on election day. I realize we’ve nominated guys older than that for president, but McCain had spent decades in the Senate and could at least boast that age in his case came with experience. As it is, if you’re an independent in Jersey and inclined to roll the dice on a “new guy,” why not roll it on the much younger, charismatic Cory Booker? And if you’re of the mind that age doesn’t matter at all, why not send Lautenberg back for his thousandth term? He’s a state institution and has a winning reelection pitch as the New Jersey senator who hasn’t been linked to underaged hookers.
Two: What’s the case for Geraldo over either of those two? The issue he’s most closely associated with is immigration and that’s likely to be done with, one way or another, by the time he’d enter the Senate. It’s not impossible to win statewide office in Jersey as a Republican but it’s hard: Christie’s cruising along to reelection only because of his surge in popularity after Sandy. Geraldo’s one big advantage is name recognition, but not all of that recognition is good — re-read that CNN headline — and Democrats will work overtime to boost Booker’s profile ahead of the election given his national potential. So how does he win? A massive self-funded campaign a la Bloomberg circa 2002, who also avoided the difficulties of a Democratic primary by running as an, ahem, “Republican”?