By Jeff Labrecque
February 04, 2013 at 09:45 PM EST
Joe Burbank/AP

New Jersey voters are accustomed to pugnacious politicians who scrap their way to power and personify the best and worst traits of the Garden State. (See: Gov. Chris Christie, who wears the state’s reputation for toughness like a badge of honor.) The murky swamp that is New Jersey politics is home to some crafty critters, so residents shouldn’t have blinked when Geraldo Rivera recently announced he was contemplating a run for U.S. Senate.

“I mention this only briefly … fasten your seatbelt,” Rivera said on his radio program late last week. “I am and have 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 in New Jersey.”

Rivera, a Fox News personality, followed up with several tweets confirming his interest.

Rivera told Bill O’Reilly on Friday that he and his wife, Erica, were “seriously considering” a candidacy: “We can revive, we think, the moribund G.O.P. in the Garden State.”

Senator Rivera? Let’s give Rivera, 69, the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s sincere in his desire to serve (as opposed to some Trump-like self-promotion stunt.) Though he’s done some outstanding journalistic work over the years and been honored with Emmys and a Peabody Award, it’s difficult to decide what would be his biggest liability as a candidate: he’s been married five times, he wrote a steamy memoir Exposing Myself that boasted of his many celebrity trysts, he presided over a televised brawl involving white supremacists that left him with a broken nose, and he was reprimanded by the U.S. Army for disclosing secret Iraq War operation details on the air while reporting for Fox News in 2003. Surely, there’s a pro-Booker bumper sticker in there somewhere (and that’s all without even mentioning the Al Capone vault fiasco).

Should Rivera officially declare his intention to run for senate, he’d also have to suspend his Fox News TV show, Geraldo at Large. “Geraldo would have to step aside as soon as he made a formal decision, and we’re continuing to monitor the situation,” a rep for the network told the New York Times. When all is said and done, that might be the deciding factor in keeping Rivera out of the race and sparing New Jersey the circus his longshot candidacy might bring. A campaign might temporarily elevate him into the spotlight, but Rivera is a media survivor who can be safely counted on to cling to the nearest, safest self-aggrandizing TV camera.

Read more:

Forty years with Geraldo Rivera