October 16th, 2013
09:52 PM ET
1 year ago

Booker wins special Senate election in N.J.

(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.


"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."


Filed under: Cory Booker • New Jersey • Senate • special election
soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Another loss for the world champion loser, Sarah Palin. Her endorsement is like political poison.

    October 17, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. MrZntejas

    Just keep watching the elections – the progressives will move this country forward and upward!!!

    October 17, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Nobama Care 4 Me

    Not sure how this sends any kind of "message" to the Republican party. That seat has been occupied by a Democrat since 1972. Hardly Scott Brown replacing Ted Kennedy.

    October 17, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Rick

    I thought that Lonegan claimed he was only 3% behind! Lost by 11%. Another Republican liar.

    October 17, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. DaveinIL

    Another victory for talk show persona over substance, the same thing that bought us Obama and Obamacare.

    October 17, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Peter Q Wolfe

    I wouldn't be surprised that Mr Booker won in a blue state not that surprising really. I wouldn't call this a trend setter as others might as a reafffirmation of the direction of the country's politics are concerned. Gottaw give it them in NJ though that they picked a guy with class and character not unlike my senators who blow in the wind in their track record by turning red as the 1992 shifted their favor. The south never principled and never to be trusted on anything especially not on science...

    October 17, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. Mymy

    As long as republicans insist on bringing Palin in to save the day.. as a liberal I am feeling more and more confident. As my granddaughter would say... That is soooo 2010.

    October 17, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Terry

    Never missed an opportunity to be in the limelight.

    October 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. ken

    The GOP strategy is working.....

    October 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. MAJLich

    I'm a New Yorker. I know that Jersey Shore, Snookies crappy show and NJ House Wives did them no justice. The fact is that Jersey is not dumb and most of their public are informed like many of us in the North East. Tea Baggers stop wasiting your time campaining north of the Mason-Dixon..you have no chance. On a possitive note...We glady accpet your conrtriubution to our ecconomy. Thanks :P

    October 17, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. Ilyak

    can anyone explain me how it works. Did we have an election?? Who voted for him? Why did not i go to vote then?

    October 17, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. me

    GOP = Gutless Ostracized Politicians... please either go away, or learn that not everyone sees things as you and act accordingly...

    October 17, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Doug Ortiz

    "oh yea baby", I won. – His exclamation upon winning. Shows so much "decorum, graciousness and intellect". It is no wonder that our government is in shambles.

    October 17, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. sly

    Cory Booker sounds like a very intelligent politician with excellant values.

    A great choice – New Jersey!

    Republicans have gotten their clocks cleaned in the last 2 days. The Party of No has become the Party of Losers.

    October 17, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. YeahRight

    Oh boy. Get ready for "The Chronicles of Riddickulous."

    October 17, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Solitairedog

    I went to FAUX news site to see what excuses they give for Booker winning in NJ. I clicked on a article announcing his win. My computer first froze, then crashed completely. Blue screen. First time it ever happened to me on my laptop. Am I wondering? Well, yes I am.

    October 17, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. PushingBack

    Wow, whatever Palin touches turns to excrement!

    October 17, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. jo2

    Of course he would lose. He brought Palin in to campaign for him.

    October 17, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. Ben

    Booker? Isn't the guy who never actually lived in the Newark city limits (and lied about it), despite being the mayor?

    October 17, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Slinky

    Booker should send Sarah Palin a Thank You bouquet of flowers, or some chocolate.

    October 17, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Chris

    Booker won 93% of the black vote, and Lonegan didn't dig in deep enough to get a few other unchanging demographic (i.e. Democratic) areas IMHO.

    October 17, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. HoustonOilMan

    @Ilyak
    can anyone explain me how it works. Did we have an election?? Who voted for him? Why did not i go to vote then?
    -----------------------------------------------–
    Do you live in New Jersey?

    October 17, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. me

    @ Ben... Hmmm... every time the right wingers don't get their way do they always try to strangle the country, or accuse the fairly elected person of something such as not being born in the US or not living in Newark? My guess is that "embarrassment" is not something they suffer from. Most decent human beings would be ashamed of themselves after acting like a fool one time... but oh no, not the weirdos that occupy that special section of the community.... Just imagine what this country could do if the focus was on improving... of course, when not making false accusations most of that group is being abducted by aliens, or at getting all dressed in white for the big night out at the camp fire...

    October 17, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. sam

    I am happy I did not vote for a guy like: "I said to myself, who wants that job anyway?" he (Mr. Lonegan) joked later. Why do they want to compete for a position?

    October 17, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Janet

    Only down side to the whole election is that it was held 3 weeks ahead of the regular election day at a cost to NJ of $12 million only because our NJ Gov insisted on this. I guess he felt that too many Booker supporters wouldn't vote for him so better to tkeep the elections apart in hopes that Booker supporters will now stay home on Nov 5. Gee whiz, Gov, that $12 million could have helped a lot of folk at the storm damaged NJ shore – you know, the shore that you use as background for your election ads? I like some of the things he's done but in the long run, he's a loud mouthed bully who had no problem calling a war vet "stupid" in public because the man disagreed with him at a town meeting. Tony Soprano had more class.

    October 17, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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