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. Bjorn Bjornsen

    Wow ... second African American in the Senate. Pretty amazing ... I was under the impression he was an American. How many Euro-Americans are in the Senate ...? Oh that's right, when you put it like that all these [insert ethnicity here] Americans sound pretty stupid, don't they.

    You want to create a truly equal society ...? Start referring to all Americans as ... AMERICANS.

    October 16, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  2. Cecil

    Denna didn't say he or she wanted all dems. Just that the repubs have gone too far to the right and it's hurting them. Most of the country isn't far right and they'll never win another presidential election if they don't get that.

    October 16, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. Billy

    KD i dont know where you are seeing us as number one. We rank around 46-47 on the scale of functioning countries, directly beneath Iran. Our healthcare is behind every single other developed country. Our education levels are on par with the bottom rung in most non-third world countries. Our country as a whole is obese and suffers from nutritional issues. We have the worst social systems in the free world. We are running out of doctors and engineers because tuition costs in our "free market school system" makes it cost prohibitive to work in the industry there by drivin up the cost of medical coverage. The United States of America no longer "IS" . We now live in the United Aisles of Walmart(tm)

    October 16, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. exgovemployee@gmail.com

    So much for that "Palin" bump......

    October 16, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  5. jimatmad

    Boy, Corey gets elected and Bing! Bang! Boom! the CR and Debt Ceiling get fixed.

    Amazing.

    October 16, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  6. Cecil

    Btw look around the world. The U.S. has been slipping for some time now and is hardly number one in anything.

    October 16, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Thom

    Kd....... the GOP needs to stop shooting themselves in the foot and picking the wrong fights. 20% of the country cannot fight 80% on issues just because they think they don't like them. Social issues WIN elections. Ask Romney. You can't win elections fighting against woman's rights, gay rights, Latinos, and blacks.......that's 75% of the country !!!! In politics you can't win thinking from your heart, just your head..........

    October 16, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  8. Ben

    There is a God, this is better news than the shutdown ending.

    October 16, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. corpsman

    Sweet! Time to return this entire nation to democratic hands.

    October 16, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  10. Timber72

    "The GOP screws the public"...wow, Denna, you're sure brainwashed. And I mean that quite sincerely, not as an insult. You don't have any idea what the Tea Party is, or what it stands for, or you would never say such things. The GOP is LEFT OF CENTER, and the Democrats are FAR left of center. What the GOP needs to do is go BACK. I seriously invite you to read the philosophies of John Locke, Montesquieu, and Alexis De Tocqueville, who will be able to explain to you what individual SOVEREIGNTY means (and why it is important), along with the concepts of NATURAL RIGHTS.

    The current rulers of this country behave just like that: rulers, who know what is best for you, and if you don't like it, too bad.

    That's not how freedom works, Denna.

    October 16, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. Bill

    Great.....another senator that wants to take our guns.

    October 16, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  12. Terry

    acting like this is a big deal in a very democratic area??? I was surprised the tea party got that many votes...that is the worrisome part.

    October 16, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. Joe

    Hes a very smart man and someone who truly wants the best for everyone, this is a win for everyone.

    October 16, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  14. Jack

    This is just the beginning of reputation of this disaster!

    October 16, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. Tootie

    Shame on you Ted Cruz, shame on you. In only 10 months in the Senate you have managed to make mockery of the democratic process. As a Texan, I hope you will not be reelected and relegated to Sarah Palin status, a non factor and a media hustler. Oh wait, maybe you'll quit and take a high paying job in a circus.

    October 16, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  16. DA

    Wow, so you're saying a dem won an election in New Jersey? Definitely a referendum on the Tea Party.

    October 16, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  17. Used to be a republican but never Again

    Congrats Cory ! Good luck !

    October 16, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. EveT

    Very happy to see another Democratic senator. Congratulations, Senator Booker!

    October 16, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  19. Oy

    Kd....ummmm...have you seen what the T-Party Republicans almost did to us just now? Have you been watching the news?

    October 16, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. KW - Glendale, AZ

    EXCELLENT!! --- Another Democratic in the Senate.

    October 16, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  21. Thomas More

    When the moderators of the last debate accused Lonegan of using and then kicking out 11 million immigrants....

    Then the moderators asked Cory about the time a man died "in his arms".....I knew that stupid America would side with the liberal media once again....

    October 16, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  22. nightowl

    @Kd.
    To your point sir, we almost lost that position with the current composition – wherein a fraction of the house with the backing of ominous external powers, money and unfathomable influence, held the whole 'number 1' nation at gunpoint.. Yes, we don't need democrats in the majority in both houses. That will be a massive pig-sty (this from me, a supporter of Obama) not too fond of the food-stamp violations. But, we do need sensible, sincere, honest republicans to keep us @ No. 1 and move us along. And keep the other in check, in practical, non-crippling ways. And not to knee-cap us at every opportunity. What we need are republicans like the old Giuliani, (former repub) mayor Bloomberg, former senator Olympia Snow and perhaps, the younger, saner, non-senile Sen. John McCain.
    PS: Disclaimer: My dream-team for US leadership some years ago was, seriously McCain-Giuliani (prez/VP). But surely not the current geriatric, spiteful creatures they have turned out to be. McCain, I submit, was responsible for the abomination of Sarah Palin and her 'tea party' lemmings, something that all of us are paying for in real implications these days.

    October 16, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  23. Keith

    Hey Kd where have you been The United States has been slipping ever since George Bush got into office, you can't just blame the Dems unless of course you get all your info. from Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck.

    October 16, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  24. CallYouOnIt

    Yes, we must fight the good fight for every seat. We must win back the House of Representatives as well. We must not allow the TeaParty to do this again. Donate whatever you can to the Democratic party and fight Republican Redistricting

    October 16, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. Gary

    To Kd,
    Not sure you know this but The USA has not been number 1 in almost anything in a long long time... Stop looking with blinders on and see what is real...

    October 16, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
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