(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."
another one bites the dust another one another one another right wing crazy bites the dust hay hay .well done to the sane party .
Americas bigges enemy its not alquaeda its the TEA PARTY.
Down with the Tea Party!
don't worry, Mr. Kd. Dem party will later split into branches, useful for working people, not for 1% or 2% of having everything, but power and respect.
You mean like it has been since Bush the Lesser took over? Bankrupt, horribly divided, disliked? Let's hope this win is the first salvo of payback, for the R's insane actions!
Well it figures...runaway state debt and high unemployment...sounds like a dem state to me.
JOB WELL DONE!
He doesn't even live there.
Yea just put all democrats on both sides and see what happens. We will no longer be number one. The united states will no longer be ."
So exactly what "Number One" have Republicans gotten us lately?
Number 1 First World Country without a working Government?
oh wait.. i got it... MILITARY SPENDING, OBESITY and PRISON POPULATIONS!!
Thanks for playing.
@Kd, how is the US "number one" in anything? When has it ever really been, except in its own ego? But, you're concern about too much Dems can be blamed on the Tea Party, the Party of No. Many of the nation's voters are centrists who aren't voting pro-Dem as much as they're voting anti-GOP. Don't expect that to escape the attention of the Dems. That's the flaw in the perception of California as a Blue state; it's Purple. The California GOP has been losing registrations to the Independents and "Decline to State" more than to the Dems. They vote anti-GOP because of the Tea Party wingnuts.
Thank God that New Jersey did not elect another Tea Party backed Congressman to Washington. I think this defeat will be a sign of the future for the 2014 elections because of the shut-down caused by the Tea Party members of the House.
Tea Party loses again!
KD....we aren't #1 NOW!!! WAKE UP!!!!
Ours is a representative form of govt. Majority wins, despite what the minority might want. We've just seen what can happen when the Speaker of the House of Representatives panders to the minority of his party over the feelings and votes of the majority of his own party and the majority of the nation. We don't have a govt of the few by the few for the few, so help them god. Congratulations Senator Booker!, and Kd...if being #1 is what you think this is all about, you need to re-enroll in a basic civics course.
Jesus did it
Is it any wonder Lonegan lost with Palin backing him? She is poisonous to everyone's campaign.
Kd – take your meds and hush.
Congrats to New Jersey.We need more like him in our Congress.
What a wonderful article – no mention at all of what the vote was...
I remember well how it use to be when the country was under Democratic control for years.....high interest rates, unemployment, gas prices, etc. We just thought 2008 was bad..umm. that was a shower compared to the hurricane which awaits us!
Once again, the opportunistic grifter, "Half/Governor" Sarah Palin, has failed to invigorate a fellow TP Roller's sagging
campaign with her morally bankrupt endorsement. She's been using the same snarky admonition against opponents
for 5 years: "Hold on thar, fella! I wouldn't start measurin' the drapes jus' yet!" My question to the "Muse of the Tea
Party?": "It seems like you've been subjecting us to your tired act for 100 years...do YOUR drapes still match YOUR
"carpet?" Palin has long passed her "Best By" date...dispose of her with the rest of the trash.
1 AM Eastern time as I write this, and I was surprised to see no vote totals reported. Apparently there were enuf in already for the candidates to know who'd won and lost. Was it even close?
1 AM as I write this, and no vote totals. Why not? The candidates obviously had enuf info to know who'd won and lost. Was it even close?
The first of MANY such wins for the Dems. All I can say is.... America is finally going to become The Beautiful!
Yayyyyyy!!!!!! I am so happy! Kd...you so funny!!!! It's happened before and The United States didn't cease to "be". Stop buying into the GOP's scare tactics. Sheesh!