October 16th, 2013
09:52 PM ET
6 months 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. Sean

    Yep GOP needs to move center because booker is as far left as it gets. Gay, flamboyant 3am pedicures a city he ran into the fourth highest murder rate in the country when he was barely there. This is the best we can do? Has anything gotten better for anyone in this country since Oprah and the left got there way?

    Five million bucks spent for booker yeah he has no one to pay back.

    October 16, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  2. Robert

    Because you know historically when Democrats control both houses we stop being number one and the United States ends. No wait. We really came into super power status in the first place when democrats controlled both houses. Kind of puts a dent in your talking point kid.

    October 16, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  3. bribarian

    lol turning Washington into Detroit

    October 16, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  4. S. B. Stein

    It would have been good for Booker to make some request that his supporters vote for Buono.

    October 16, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  5. Sean

    Well Kd, at least the Democrats will focus on education and it may help your grammar skills.

    October 16, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  6. Michael Benjamin

    What a great day for election! The GOP screws the public and Cory Booker wins over a Republican. I hope this becomes a "trend. The GOP needs a good scare to move them back to the center. If they don't, the Tea Party will destroy them."

    SOUNDS LIKE A WIN/WIN EITHER WAY!

    October 16, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    Congratulations Senator Booker!!

    October 16, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  8. Matthew

    Spoiler alert: We Republicans don't want the tea party there anymore than you all do, so please come election time, join us in removing this dangerous cancer from American society.

    October 16, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  9. Joe Plumber

    He brought in Sarah Palin? I guess he really didn't want that job and had be sure.

    October 16, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  10. Valkyrie

    I first met Cory when I was 9. He was very popular then with all the school kids; but Cory was my best friend. My first real friend. I know what kind of person he is better than most. I can tell you that NJ, and the United States, is very lucky to have such a genuine soul dedicated to giving a voice to all citizens who Washington often seems to forget. He is a champion for us all, no matter your political association. Cory has always – since we were kids – been able to see all sides of an argument and bring people together. Cory is who he appears to be. He can't help it; he is wired to help others and to be a great leader.

    October 16, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  11. Kevin H

    My perception is that Cory Booker is a politician. I also think he's a good man. A bit different, but good. Different can be a good thing. I suspect that Booker may reach across the aisle more than some of his supporters would like. Mr. Booker is a pragmatist. Unlike Mr. Obama his grassroots politicking is laced with lots of good old fashioned backslapping NJ style politics. And honestly I don't have a lot of respect for either Chicago or Newark-style politics. It's about as bad as Detroit politics – which – well "'nuf said".

    October 16, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. dude

    Why is it always "ha hes a Democrat! Go get them booker yeah!"

    You are putting the united states into factions, and factions are toxic to politics. Why cant we all agree that booker is not just a democrat, but a senator for all of new jersey. This a man who shovels his cities peoples driveways, risks life and limb to rescue his nieghbor from a raging inferno, goes on a "foodstamp only" budget for himself to show that the system is flawed, and gives the people of new jersey a place to sleep in his own home. He is a wonderful senator, and even better man. Dont label him as a simple democrat, but look further and see that he is a senator for the people, not his party.

    October 16, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  13. meanoldbastid

    Booker wins the election! And this is a headline? Booker could have been dead for 3 days and he still would of won. He was the stand out Democrat in a Democratic state. What this election was really about was voter fatigue and turnout for the general elections. Without a nationally ranked Democrat on the general election ballot the Democratic base might just stay home giving the down ticket Republicans a chance to pick up a few state wide seats.In addition look at the disparity in spending.

    October 16, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  14. Deepen

    Congrats to Cory! Proud NJ Resident here who casted his vote proudly this morning!

    October 16, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  15. xx4zu1

    Good job Palin way to push the Democratic candidate over the top!

    October 16, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  16. kenny

    To Kd: We will no longer be number one in what?!? Defense spending? Obese people? Number of citizens incarcerated? I'd take a Democratic led House and Senate any day over what the "fringe" on the right would do if they were in charge. Republicans have a way of convincing people to vote against their own best interests. I'll never get it.

    October 16, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  17. mike

    Bye bye middle class. Hello welfare world.

    October 16, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  18. zandhcats

    Agreed we should not have only one party to govern the nation but that is the Tea PArty has been dragging the nation down after 2010. These blatant selfish and narrow minded imbeciles need to be voted out ASAP. By doing so, first we have to repeal the SuperPAC.

    October 16, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  19. rob

    what a big surprise. Didn't Harridan Palin put in a special hagpearance for his opponent.

    October 16, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  20. Mack

    I agree Denna. Bring back the old Republicans you could reason with. I don' t them to have all control, or us either. We keep each other in check. Now days you'll never hear someone on the right write something conciliatory like I am. Never. Hate, anger, and all piled on with more hate.

    October 16, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  21. Black American

    I pray God I live long enough to see Senator Booker become the first Black American that can say they have some type of salve history in their family become President of the United States of America who does not have to write two books to prove he should be considered a Black American and not just African American. Yes Denna a great day for America a Black man won a US Senate sit.

    October 16, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Who cares again?

    October 16, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  23. monroedevos

    KD...I really admire your optimism. Just what we need in America.

    October 16, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  24. jod

    Remember the smackdown Booker got from fellow Dems last year when he defended Romney's record at Bain Capital? The DNC's got Booker by the strings. He won't make the mistake of stepping out of line again...

    October 16, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  25. Mike

    Right on Denna. We need to see a congress that works together for compromise and compassion for all. The radicals in both parties need to be brought closer to the center so that we can make this country work together. Right now we are the laughing stock of the world.

    October 16, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
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