(CNN) - Cory Booker is heading to Washington.
The 44-year-old two-term Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey defeated his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, Wednesday in a special U.S. Senate election.
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"I'm going down to make the Senate more accessible to all of us. I will bring more voice to the voices too often ignored in our state. I will be dogged and determined, relentless and unfaltering in my sense of service for all of New Jersey," said Booker from a victory rally at his election headquarters in Newark.
"If you voted for me, I will make you proud. If you didn't vote for me, I will work every single day to earn your trust. Remember this always: I work for all of New Jersey."
About 35 miles away in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Lonegan, a businessman and the former mayor of the northern New Jersey town of Bogota, conceded.
"Moments ago I called Senator Booker to congratulate him in his win and as we should, wish him the best in serving the people of the State and the people of this country," said Lonegan to a crowd of defiant supporters, announcing he would return to the private sector.
"I said to myself, who wants that job anyway?" he joked later.
With 99% of precincts reporting, Booker led Lonegan 55%-44%.
Booker was the front runner in all the public opinion polls throughout the short campaign to fill the remaining 15 months of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. With his victory, Booker becomes the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since Barack Obama in 2004.
During the campaign, Booker characterized Lonegan as a far-right, tea party conservative who was too far out of the mainstream for Garden State voters. And Lonegan criticized Booker for what the Republican described as his celebrity status, adding that the nationally recognized Booker is a "Hollywood stand-in" for President Barack Obama.
In the past couple of weeks, the race became a proxy fight over the partial government shutdown, the standoff over raising the nation's debt ceiling, and the bitter partisan divide over the national health care law.
Low turnout was expected for a contest held on a Wednesday, and that came less than three weeks before the state holds a gubernatorial election.
To help bring Democrats to the polls, Booker's campaign released a video message Monday from Obama, who urged New Jersey voters to turn out for the Democratic candidate. And Saturday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a favorite among grassroots conservatives, campaigned with Lonegan at a high profile event organized by a national tea party group.
Soon after Lautenberg's death, GOP Gov. Chris Christie, who's up for re-election in November, named fellow Republican and state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to temporarily fill the Senate seat. That move reduced the Democratic Party's control of the Senate to 54-46. Booker's victory brings the Democrats' majority back to 55-45.
While there were two major candidates in the race, it's Booker, considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, who got the lion’s share of attention.
He made national headlines for rescuing a neighbor from a fire and for helping his city dig out from a major snowstorm. But his status also opened him to attacks by his critics that he spends far too much time outside of Newark, and that he hasn't done enough to stem the city's rising murder rate.
Booker can boast of having nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers. But a recent Twitter exchange with a stripper did briefly make headlines.
And questions about Booker's sexuality arose after he told the Washington Post earlier this year that he didn't care if supporters thought he was gay.
"It's something that's almost fatiguing at this point," Booker told CNN's Jason Carroll earlier this week. "At the end of the day, I just believe we should be electing people on the content of their character, on the quality of their ideals, their dedication to their cause, not on who they're dating."
Congrats Senator Booker!
@Malory Archer: "A Democrat won a state senate seat here in Florida on Tuesday evening that had NEVER been won by a Dem before. Her county/district is solidly red, so this is HUUUUUUGE!!!"
Indeed it is, Malory. Kudos to all who helped get Amanda Murphy elected.
Yea Cory !! Especially since Corys opponent was a TPer
Congratulations SENATOR Booker!!
God bless, Godspeed, go get 'em!!!!!!!!
and so goes the US House next year
"I said to myself, who wants that job anyway?" he joked later
And the people of New Jersey evidently didn't want you to have it so everybody wins!
Congratulations, then, to you as well.
What was that? Over 1 MILLION people turned out to vote in a special, special election?
I cannot wait to see the turn out in 2014.
Our voices count and so do our votes.
We will not be defined by special interests.
We, the people will plot our course and shape America.
so much for stupid Palin......
Now Mallory don't you know facts make the GOPTers heads explode? They love citing Detroit failing because Democrats were in charge, yet they completely ignore the fact that the Auto Industry moved the majority of their plants overseas. Thousands of people lost very well paying jobs.
all these suits want is: whats in it for me ? ........and in return higher taxes and lower wages and and more wal marts selling junk goods to poverty and illegals ...... you see how they ruin a strong city from the inside.... out .... from bottom to top then the move on to the next flourished town
Lonegan lacked the intellect to hold such an office. Proof of point; bringing Sarah Palin, a political kiss of death, into the campaign.
I use to be registered Democrat but I will vote Republican If I have to. So for me I love Chris Cristie because is is the only republican that actually works with both parties
It will be Booker in 2016
A Democrat won a state senate seat here in Florida on Tuesday evening that had NEVER been won by a Dem before. Her county/district is solidly red, so this is HUUUUUUGE!!!
OMG!!!! HUGE indeed!!
Wire Palladin S.F. is this the candidate that you were referencing the other day, or is yours running for the House of Reps?
Booker only works for Obama and his cronies in big business...............
One more for the Dems. The GOP Tea Party is over. Dead in it's tracks. Thankfully.
And Sarah Palin pockets her fee and slinks back to Alaska.
I didn't vote for him, but really, he is Obama Lite. More personable and collaborative than the aloof, pompous "leader" Obama is – and probably brighter – but really the same with the flowery rhetoric that creates a system of dependance on government over personal accountability, self-reliance, and charity. And of course, the whole Hollywood limousine lib element there. I mean, if Oprah loves him, he must be good. (riiiigh)
post reconstruction Democrats were Republicans post 1963 bill Democrat extremists went Republican .. they are still there
Another democratic victory and another loss for the people. Get ready people who voted for him – higher taxes, more taxes, more government, less money and jobs for everyone! Get ready for his "Tax the hell out of the rich" speech.
Another Liar in office
So, Gov. Christie are your eyes feeling a bit misty at the Big Democratic Win today? Well, if you truly care about the people and that means ALL of the people, minorities, the poor, women, gays, lesbians, etc., in essence Everybody, you should not feel aggressively fisty anymore. Ah well, take heart, it was done all in a day's work and not only the Democrats won but the People Won! in Nu Joisey!
Congrats Cory!! I hope you will be just in time before Hateriots I mean Patriots will completely destroy our economy and call it "best thing" ever.
As an indepedent voter who usually votes to the right, I support Booker, I like his no-non-sense approach to politics and he's very likable. That being said, I hope he does right and doesn't give-in the special interests and scandals.
I just heard the question asked,how many people went out to vote on a Wednesday? My response was...enough! Congrats to the people of New Jersey for electing the fine, Newark's Mayor Cory Booker to represent you in the senate. I was there in the garden state,less than three weeks ago. Many family members had come together to celebrate the life of an uncle who had been a resident for at least 60 years. My brother shared how welcoming Newark had been to the youths who left the south to complete high school.