That was fast: Geraldo ends Ohio Senate campaign -- after one day

The easy read on the 24-hour rise and fall of Geraldo 2022 is that it was never serious. Maybe he was lounging on a beach chair somewhere yesterday, thought it’d be amusing to playfully float the idea of a Senate campaign, and now feels obliged to set the record straight after political media picked it up and ran with it. A tweet is just a tweet, no?

I can imagine him sipping a daiquiri while he typed that, laughing to his wife, “Honey, watch this.” He enjoyed the “joke” enough to double down on it last night, after people like me had already taken it up:

“It was just a goof.” That’s what we’ll be told. The problem with that theory is that he gave an interview to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer yesterday sounding very serious indeed about a campaign, never mind that he’s 77 years old and far too liberal on abortion and immigration to fit comfortably into a modern Republican primary. Does this sound like a goof?

In an interview with 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…

Rivera said he would self-fund at least the first part of his campaign to get it off the ground. He said he viewed himself as a Republican in the mold of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a Rocky River Republican who’s come under attack for his vote to impeach Republican President Donald Trump for the president’s role in the deadly riot that engulfed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6…

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

“Black and brown people are hungry for a voice that encourages responsibility and entrepreneurship and participation in the great American dream,” Rivera said. “I think Ohio deserves more than, how can I say this, the traditional politicians who are trudging their way saying it’s their turn to run for this.”

A listening tour, a platform aimed at gettable minority voters, even a plan for funding the campaign in its early stages. Some “joke.”

In hindsight, the key line from that story may have been the one about him and his wife talking it over “in the coming weeks.” That was a clue that Mrs. Rivera perhaps wasn’t onboard yet. When the Cleveland Jewish News inquired with her today about the coming campaign, it received this message back:

Despite tweeting March 10 that he was debating a run for the Ohio Senate seat soon to be relinquished by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, in 2022, talk show host and Shaker Heights resident Geraldo Rivera has decided against campaigning for the opening seat, Rivera’s wife, Erica Levy, told the Cleveland Jewish News March 11.

“We sincerely apologize that Geraldo is not running or in the case that it makes one happy congrats!,” Levy’s text to the CJN read. “We have decided not to run.”

Geraldo himself had suddenly changed his mind this afternoon too:

What happened?

Did he … neglect to run this idea by the missus before running it by the public? The fact that she, not he, responded to the CJN inquiry makes me suspect that the discussion the two were supposed to have over the “coming weeks” was more like a 10-second exchange last night:

“What’s this about you running for office?!”
“Are you excited? I can win!”
“No you can’t, and no way are we spending the next year driving around Ohio shaking hands in diners. If you do it, I’m leaving.”
“…Fine, forget it.”

She put her foot down, and that was that.

The only alternative I can think of to explain why he’d give up so quickly after sounding so interested was that he got a message from Mar-a-Lago informing him that if he’s expecting an endorsement from you-know-who he should adjust his expectations. The most baffling thing about Geraldo wanting to run this race is that he was a strident critic of Trump’s “stop the steal” campaign after the election, which will be a major litmus test for MAGA voters in 2022. Realistically the only chance he’d have in a GOP primary is if Trump endorsed him — and yet his comments about the election all but guaranteed that Trump would never endorse him, especially when there are more “loyal” alternatives in the field like Jane Timken. For cripes sake, this video is still the pinned tweet on Rivera’s Twitter account. How did he convince himself, even for a day, that he was viable with a Republican electorate after stuff like this?