(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."
At this moment; all is well in this world!
@Kd: In case you haven't noticed, we stopped being number one after 2000.
Way to go New Jersey residents. Happy to see that you guys have made the wise decision to not send another GOP to the Senate. Make New Jersey proud Senator Booker. Please work across the isle for the sake of America. Enough Madness from the Republican Tea Party tribe in both the Senate and the House. I am happy that there is one less Senate GOP. The Senate needs to be at least 6 more GOP less. However, the House is where a drastic cleaning of Greedy Overbearing Poops (GOP) needs to be to take place. Man, November 2014 can't come quickly enough. It will be a tidal wave of GOP being swept out.
That's really sad news for the country. Another spendthrift in a poor state screwing the working classes and making the poor dependent for life.
Way to go Booker! Give em hell!
@Kd – The Republican's were in charge for 8 years and look where that got us...
Haven't been number 1 in quite a while... Not because of dems or republicans, but because of the people who elect them. Us.
Kd you might go to Canada or some other country before it happens. good luck
Yay! Less obstruction!
Well, the democrats will not be the cause of such a scenario (which I agree is bad for the country). The Tea Party did. Nobody said that all republican are idiots.
Congratulations Senator Booker.
You will represent N. J. very well. Happy for your win, and our win
another "brotha" in the goverment.goverment needs to shed some of the civil rights nut jobs.civil rights only cause problems.the tea party is what america is aching for.we dont need to recruit latinos or blacks to win the white house in 2016.we can do it on our own.obummer needs to put the quoran down
Cory Booker is going to Washington!
“My victory in this election on Wednesday will send a message to Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that the American people want an end to Obamacare and the rest of the President’s radical agenda.”
BUT he LOST so that means the message is the voters WANT Obamacare and the rest of the agenda. Thanks for making that clear to us Stevie boy!
I am looking forward to see what a few decades of a Democrat super majority will bring to America. We already have an excellent preview of the prosperity to come for America in Detroit, California, Flint, Chicago, Washington D.C...
article mentions he is first black senator elected since Obama, it fails to mention there is only one black senator at the moment – but that's because he's a republican. You won't hear CNN mention Tim Scott, I bet most have never heard of him, and that's a shame.
One less Teapublican in Washington!
Maybe he can do the same thing for the Senate he did for Newark. lol
and Palin poisons another election... when will they learn?
I voted for Booket let us hope he is a postive force in the senate just like Launrberg was
A great leader of the city, state and the great country.
If we can only replace all Republicans with Democrats in the Senate and the House we will have gone a long way in establishing Utopia.
yeah Dems are bad the country should be ruled by nutcases who declare they do things by the hand of god...
Bachman/Akin for prez...
keep passing Christian Taliban Shariah Laws....
I hope that this is only the first of many wins for the Democratic Party over the next few years.
Anyone who attaches their name to the tea party brand will never stand a chance of winning anything, not after their assinine stunt in D.C. defying a law of the land and holding America hostage. You better believe there's a whole lot of TPers reconsidering their *allegiance* to a bunch of clowns about now.