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Geraldo Rivera considering run for U.S. Senate in Ohio

Geraldo Rivera considering run for U.S. Senate in Ohio

by Seth A. Richardson | cleveland.com  |  Published on March 11, 2021

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Famed conservative radio and television commentator Geraldo Rivera is exploring a run for U.S. Senate in Ohio as a Republican, telling cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer that he thought he could run a campaign outside the normal bounds of politics.

Rivera, 77, has been a staple on television and radio since the 1970s as both a correspondent and conservative political pundit. Rivera, who lives in Shaker Heights, tweeted Wednesday afternoon he was mulling running for Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s seat after Portman announced he would not seek re-election.

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.”

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.

Rivera, who said he considered Trump a friend, has interviewed Trump numerous times throughout the years, offering both praise and criticism. He did not vote for Trump in 2016.

Rivera said he disapproved of Trump’s post-election actions, but thought he could run a campaign focused on unifying the Republican Party as well as attracting new voters.

“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.”

Rivera said he and his wife admired Portman, but was also complimentary of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and GOP former Gov. John Kasich. The latter two are often the focus of scorn by Republicans in the state, but Rivera said, should he decide to run, he would focus on pulling ideas from all wings of Ohio politics.

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

That would include a platform attractive to minority voters, a population the Republican Party – until recently – hasn’t focused on heavily.

“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.”

Rivera, should he enter, would be the third Republican aiming to succeed Portman, who surprised many in January when he announced he would not seek re-election in 2022. Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken and former Treasurer Josh Mandel both announced in February, with both focusing almost exclusively on promoting their closeness and loyalty to Trump.

So far, no Democrats have entered the race, though Rep. Tim Ryan, a Niles Democrat, and former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton are considering running.

Rivera, a New York native, is widely known for his distinctive mustache and five decades in journalism. Over the years, he’s reported for news magazine programs, including ABC’s “20/20.”

In 2001, he joined Fox News, becoming one of the conservative networks most widely known anchors, including hosting his own show, “Geraldo at Large.” He currently broadcasts his syndicated radio show, “Geraldo in Cleveland,” out of WTAM 1100′s station in Cleveland.

Rivera has flirted with the idea of entering politics in the past. In 2013, he considered a bid for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, though ultimately declined to run.

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