Geraldo: Are you ready for Senator Geraldo?

On a slow news day like today, sure, I’ll take this cry for attention semi-seriously.

Which is more seriously than Geraldo’s taking it, it seems, or else he wouldn’t have left his location services on when he tweeted about it.

Do Ohio politicians typically make their announcements from Florida?

No, really, he’s serious, he told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

In an interview with cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer, Rivera said he was serious about the endeavor and planned on traveling the state on a listening tour in the coming weeks to solicit feedback about his potential candidacy. He said he and his wife, Erica Levy, a Democrat, would talk it over in the coming weeks as they decide.

“I think that’s a crucial seat,” Rivera said. “We’re very concerned about the future of Ohio and the nation and we think we have a role to play.”…

“It’d scare the bejesus out of the Democrats and the far-right wing of the Republican Party,” he said.

A few things about “Geraldo 2022” to bear in mind.

1. He’s 77. He doesn’t seem that old, but he’s only eight months younger than Joe Biden and is several years older than Trump. A 77-year-old can win a major election in America, as the president might remind us, but I don’t know that a 77-year-old running for the first time can.

2. He’s talked about running for Senate before:

New Jersey, where he surely would have been obliterated by Cory Booker. Here’s two minutes of him talking about his nascent campaign at the time from a “Fox & Friends” segment co-hosted by Gretchen Carlson(!!):

He was pro-choice but anti-deficit, the opposite of a proper populist Republican in 2021. He’s always been very soft on border enforcement, another mismatch. He voted for Obama in 2012 by his own admission. Hoo boy.

3. He’s a newcomer to Ohio. According to this story, he’s been there since 2017 and said in 2019 that he intended to live the rest of his life there. He hosts a podcast called “Geraldo in Cleveland.” Is that enough to overcome the bevy of Ohio natives whom he’d face in the primary like Jane Timken and Josh Mandel, not to mention potential general election opponents like Tim Ryan?

4. Would Trump even endorse him? They’re old friends, yeah, but Geraldo spent most of December on television urging Trump to stop acting like an “entitled frat boy” and accept that he’d lost the election to Biden. It’s over, he warned, pleading with MAGA friends to drop their fraud accusations. At one point he admitted that Trump had stopped speaking to him. Does he not understand that skepticism about the legitimacy of Biden’s win is destined to be a prerequisite for Republican candidates in 2022?

I guess he doesn’t. More from the Plain-Dealer:

“He’s been a friend of mine forever. I have been very public in my disapproval of his actions post-election and certainly condemn in the most vigorous way what happened on Jan. 6,” Rivera said. “However, I think President Trump is not only redeemable, but he’s a force of nature who has been a lifelong friend in my adult life. I would expect he would approve of this. We can resolve our issues and help heal the Republican Party.”

I’m not sure this particular issue is so easily resolved, my man. In fact, bizarrely, Rivera told the paper that he’s a Republican in the mold of Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez — one of the 10 House GOPers who voted to impeach Trump and who’s drawn a primary challenger because of it. And that primary challenger has already been endorsed by you-know-who.

To complicate matters further, reportedly Trump *nearly* endorsed a candidate in the Senate race that Geraldo is eyeing. Jane Timken was a major donor to him and has taken care to stay in his good graces. Recently she put out a statement calling on Gonzalez to resign over his impeachment vote. Trump was considering whether to take the plunge and lend her his formal support even though the primary’s more than a year away but was talked out of it by, among others, Don Jr, on grounds that it was premature. That’s good news for Rivera, I guess, since Trump’s endorsement is still in play but bad news in that there’s already a presumptive favorite who’s willing to show far more “loyalty” on the sensitive subject of the election than Geraldo was.

Exit question: Given all the above, would Rivera win the primary even if Trump did endorse him? How much of an appetite is there in a Trumpy midwestern state for “Rivera Republicanism”?