Geraldo Rivera Is Not the Only One Eyeing New Jersey Senate Race

VIDEO: Geraldo Rivera considers run for U.S. Senate in New Jersey.
ABCNEWS.com
Geraldo Rivera

Who's the latest candidate to make some baby steps toward a run in New Jersey for U.S. Senate? "Buckle your seat belts," as he told his radio listeners Thursday, its Fox News host and longtime media personality Geraldo Rivera. He went on Fox News Friday to explain the decision, saying he's a Republican because of fiscal issues, not social ones.

He said his is a "point of view that is unrepresented in states like New Jersey."

"So, you have to take my fiscal positions on being a Republican who believes that we have to bail out future generations rather than indebt future generations with some of these social policies that aren't in sync with much of traditional GOP politics, at least not in recent years," Rivera said on "Fox & Friends."

"There can be a new vitalization of the Republican Party, a concept where we extol the virtues of good business and fiscal policy and fight the deficit and don't advocate the printing of money in obscene amounts just to cover our debts."

Rivera, 69, added: "I believe in immigration reform. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage. I believe in choice. Not obscenely, but I believe in Roe vs. Wade."

It's unclear whether he will leave Fox to consider a run. Before the 2012 campaign, the network ended agreements with presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Rivera has been a larger-than-life figure throughout his career, including so many colorful moments. Could they pop up in his opponents, or his own, advertising? It would be a fun race to watch.

And who are his possible opponents? The newest possible hat in the ring gave us an excuse to look at the figures in the New Jersey Senate race. Keep reading.

PHOTO: Newark Mayor Cory Booker visits "Extra" at Newark City Hall on Jan. 15, 2013 in Newark, N.J.
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Cory Booker

The 43-year-old Newark mayor is fond of Twitter, often tweeting directly to constituents about everything from pot holes to heat, but he has also proven himself as a national political figure able to command airwaves (and raise money) much like the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. But there's an issue, and it's not the newest possible entrant to the race. It's that there is already a Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey and he hasn't said he's going anywhere. Frank Lautenberg is up for re-election next year and won't say whether he wants to run or not.

In December, Booker announced he was considering a run for the Senate seat held by the 89-year-old Lautenberg, and other state Democrats bristled at the move, calling it "distracting" and even disrespectful.

Booker pulled back at that point, telling several television hosts he was just considering it, but the paperwork has been filed and a juicy race has already begun between the sitting senator and Booker, despite what he might do.

Many New Jersey Democrats hoped he would instead take on tough-talking Christie in his re-election bid this year, but Booker surprised and decided to go after the Senate seat instead and not the popular governor.

PHOTO: Senator Frank Lautenberg , D-N.J., presides over a hering on "Superstorm Sandy: The Devastating Impact on the Nation's Largest Transportation Systems" on Dec. 6, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
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Frank Lautenberg

The senator, 89, has not let on whether he wants to run for another term next year. That, of course, didn't stop Newark Mayor Cory Booker from deciding to run. And that fact didn't set well with Lautenberg. He said Booker is "entitled" to challenge him for his seat, but he might have to get a "spanking" for being "disrespectful."

"I have four children," Lautenberg told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I love each one of them. I can't tell you that one of them was occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK."

He wouldn't tell the newspaper whether he will seek another six-year term next year.

"I've got a lot of work to do yet, serious things and we pride ourselves [in] my office and my team [on] getting things done. That's the focus. I'm not thinking about the politics right now," Lautenberg said.

He also told the paper that Booker is no shoo-in, saying there are others who might also want the Senate seat. One of those possibilities is Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, who has expressed interest in running, but hasn't made an announcement.

"He'll have to stand on his record and I'm sure he won't be a lone soldier out there drooling at the mouth and wanting this cushy job that we have here," Lautenberg said of Booker's seeking the seat.

PHOTO: Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., waits for the start of a news conference, Feb. 8, 2012.
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Frank Pallone

Rep. Frank Pallone is a U.S. congressman from New Jersey's 6th District and has been in office since 1989, originally elected to the 3rd but due to re-districting switched to the 6th four years later. He has long expressed interest in the Senate seat, recently telling Democratic leaders he would run if Frank Lautenberg decides not to. He has also worked with the senator on issues in the state and the two have a long-standing relationship.

Pallone, 61, hasn't made any outward moves, as Cory Booker has, but in waiting for the 89-year-old to decide on his own not to run for another term, there's more chance, thanks to his deference, that he gets the blessing from the sitting senator. Of course that means running against the telegenic and well-known Booker, which wouldn't be an easy challenge.

Loretta Weinberg

Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg is one New Jersey Democrat who sees the whole situation as a distraction from the more pending fight to take on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Weinberg, 77, has been openly critical of Booker's decision not to enter the gubernatorial race, writing an open letter to Booker on BlueJersey.com earlier this month telling him to "stop the U.S. Senate distraction, give Senator Lautenberg the time to concentrate on getting us federal Sandy help and the respect of making a decision about his re-election in his own time."

In an interview with ABC News, she said she was "disappointed."

"I thought [Booker] would make the best candidate on a whole number of levels," Weinberg said of the gubernatorial race. "He's got a clear voice for many of the issues I believe in and most progressive Democrats believe in.

"He has the ability to command a national stage, as does our governor, and he has the ability to fundraise, as does our governor. I wanted to see those two latter attributes in helping improve the lives of residents in New Jersey."

Weinberg added that Booker's moves toward a U.S. senate run are a "political distraction."

"Lately, every time there is a question about the U.S. Senate nomination in New Jersey with the possibility that Frank Lautenberg might be stepping down, I prefer [to focus] on the gubernatorial race," Weinberg said.

"I look forward to Mayor Booker joining the rest of us in talking about Gov. Christie's record in New Jersey and why we should have a chance at the governor's office and while Mayor Booker is obviously busy, as well as he should be, running the city of Newark, my hope is that his spare time will be spent in helping us with this campaign and then we can talk about the election after that."

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