Will Chris Christie go big, tap Geraldo Rivera for Senate?

In January, Geraldo Rivera said he was thinking of running in 2014 for Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat. Now, after the senator's passing, Gov. Chris Christie has the politically perilous task of naming a replacement.

Richard Drew/AP
Fox News Channel commentator Geraldo Rivera speaks on the 'Fox & Friends' television program in New York, in 2010.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) needs to pick a replacement for the Garden State’s Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday. As many pundits note, this is a task that’s fraught with political peril for Governor Christie: Pick someone deemed too liberal by conservatives, and he damages his presidential chances. Pick someone deemed too conservative by Democrats, and he damages his standing in his own blue-tinged state. What’s a shrewd, popular governor to do?

Two words: Geraldo Rivera. Or as the mustachioed news crusader would probably say it himself, Geraldo! Rivera!

Look, he lives in New Jersey, and he’s available. In January, Mr. Rivera said he was thinking of running as a Republican in 2014 for Senator Lautenberg’s seat. Or, to put it in Geraldo-speak, he was “truly contemplating” a Senate bid.

He’s laid out his political positions, and they’re pretty Christie-esque. He’s an economic conservative; tough on crime (he wants New York’s stop-and-frisk policing style in New Jersey); and a registered Republican. He’s also in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage, and he voted for President Obama in 2012.

Would that voting-for-Obama thing be tough for Christie to take? It’s one thing to praise the president for his aid to the state just before a hotly contested election, giving him a big electoral boost, as Christie did, and another thing to actually pull a lever for the guy in the privacy of the voting booth. Or not – put it that way, and they sound at least equal.

In sum, Rivera's positions are liberal enough to appeal to New Jersey, and he’s got a Harley and a deep voice and waves the flag, so maybe conservatives won’t notice he’s not really one of them. Mischief managed!

Rivera said on his radio show Monday that he’d “definitely take the call” if Christie approached him about the seat. But he added that he thinks that’s a very, very long shot.

“I haven’t been vetted. I’ve only kind of toyed with the idea of running,” he said.

He concluded that he thought Christie would pick somebody “important” instead of him.

“I can’t imagine he will pick me,” Rivera said.

Geraldo, buck up! Was it over when you opened Al Capone’s safe and it was empty? Was it over when the US military kicked you out of Iraq in 2003? Was it over when you said Trayvon Martin would not have been attacked if he had not been wearing a hoodie?

It wasn’t. So close your eyes and dream of riding your Harley up the steps of the Capitol and into the Senate chamber for your swearing-in. It might not be great politics, but it would be fabulous TV.  

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