Newark Mayor and New Jersey's newly-minted United States Senator-Elect Cory Booker won a decisive victory in Wednesday's special election to win the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the passing of Frank Lautenberg. "With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Booker led Republican Steve Lonegan by just over 10 points, 55 percent to 45 percent, reports Politico.
Booker will bring the number of senators who caucus with Democrats to 55. The loss for Lonegan, who aligned himself with congressional Republicans’ shutdown strategy, comes as lawmakers in Washington finalize a deal to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling.
After Lautenberg died, Christie announced the special election would be held Oct. 16. That’s just under three weeks before the state’s gubernatorial election, when Christie is likely to win reelection against Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono. Democrats criticized the cost and timing of the special Senate election, which comes on a Wednesday and puts Booker and Christie on separate ballots.
The 44-year-old Booker thanked supporters at a standing-room-only victory rally at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
"It would have been easy to listen to this frustrating negativity and stay home today. But here in New Jersey, more than a million people rejected cynicism and came out on a Wednesday, in the middle of October, three weeks before we have another election, to fight the cynicism," said Booker. "You didn't just vote, you believed that your vote and choice mattered."
Booker becomes the first Black U.S. senator from New Jersey and the first Black elected to statewide office from that state. In Washington, Booker will join Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina as the nation's only two black senators. Booker becomes only the ninth Black to have served in the Senate.
Watch the victory speech AFTER THE JUMP ...