October 16th, 2013
09:52 PM ET
11 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. joe

    It is nice to see that Sarah Palin was unable to influence this election.

    I do agree that the government requires checks and balances. A conservative influence is necessary in the long run. However, in the short term the Republican influence has to be culled from our government until the Republicans are able to cut out the Tea Party presence that is currently running their party. Once that Tea Party presence is stomped out, we will see a Republican party lead by the likes of sane people Bobby Jindal making a strong come back.

    October 17, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  2. JC

    How can you say that we will no longer be number one, when we are no longer number one? All throughout the Bush Administration and through President Obama's first term (where he has had to try to undo the Republican rape of America) we Americans have had to suffer while these politicians and their friends in business and of wealth have only become richer. Just check the international news if you think we are respected overseas, and this disrespect has nothing to do with our current President. The Republican need to be at war at all times (which add to the coffers of their friends with defense spending, such as Halliburton) is the reason we are no longer respected in other countries. They see us as bullies, and we have been. I am hoping for a continued peace so that we can help our citizens here, improve the infrastructure and provide jobs for those who need them. Call me liberal if you like! If caring what happens to your family, friends and neighbors is a liberal, then PROUDLY call me one!

    October 17, 2013 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  3. Joe

    Glad he won Hope he can bring some jobs back from overseas to the Garden State. Making things not fake jobs real jobs that this country needs.

    October 17, 2013 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  4. Anthony

    I wonder when these "Extremists" candidates are going to realize that Sarah Palin's endorsement is the kiss of death? Amazing how someone with the level of sheer incompetence can be running around thinking that someone needs their endorsement and they themselves have done nothing. Silly woman and more sillier the Tea Party is making itself irrelevant!

    October 17, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  5. Anna

    Good for NJ – they deserve him and everything that comes their way with him.

    October 17, 2013 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  6. RomneyWho

    One down and, well, you know!

    October 17, 2013 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  7. Elrey Jones

    What is the black on white crime statistics in Newark or any other city in America? Until these African politicians start addressing black on white crime, ALL THE AFRICAN POLITICIANS ARE RACIST. Yet these racist African politicians will get away with murder because the New World Order with the international banksters running amok and in bed with their worldwide illuminati who own newspapers, magazines, both parties, and everything else. What is the American people's solution. First, keep buying guns in order to protect your free speech rights. These Bolsheviks want to exterminate the law abiding citizens of America and every other decent nation on earth.

    October 17, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  8. Name Mrs E

    Well kd, we were almost "no more"with republicans on the other side.....I can't imagine it being any worse with the Democrats on both sides.....CONGRATS MR. BOOKER......

    October 17, 2013 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  9. Trailboss

    GOP look outside your front door there's a for SALE SIGN out there on us. Enjoy packing for your last bus to wherever you want to go we are glad to see for go for a long time. Our children is not going to for get you what you did to their parents and their future. BY YALL.

    October 17, 2013 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  10. Happy

    THE PEOPLE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO SPEAK!! 2014!!

    Congrats Senator Booker, well deserved. great guy all around.

    October 17, 2013 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  11. Whome

    An yes, "New Jersey and you".

    October 17, 2013 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  12. whitman30

    This is the indicator. I used to be a Republican until they started attacking teachers, union workers, the working class, the poor, and protecting the interests of the rich. I felt that they hid behind and used God in order to gain votes but had no spirit of compassion or Godliness about them. Their real interests were money: Koch brothers, Waltons, and Gates. Do I love the Democrats, no, but at least I do not feel I will be jobless or paid a much lower wage.

    October 17, 2013 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  13. Nate

    Cory Booker just maybe the future President of the United States.

    October 17, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  14. Harleigh Kiffer

    When will he make New Jersey his home?

    October 17, 2013 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  15. Steve

    Perhaps the actual results of the election would have been helpful information, rather than just stating Booker won.

    October 17, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  16. George

    Why would one want Sarah Palin to campaign for them? Just blows my mind!!!!

    October 17, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  17. jnpa

    Great! A far right tea party conservative bites the dust. I only hope there is more to come in 2014.

    October 17, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  18. jungleboo

    Congratulations, Mr. Booker. Your joyful outlook trumps doom and gloom any day!

    October 17, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  19. truth is

    Lonegan was just another tea party wack job. The country is better for it that he lost

    October 17, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  20. sick of republican phonies

    Kd: Oh, stop with the Chicken Little "The sky is falling" routine already, every time the word "democrat" is spoken. You can stop quaking in your boots and arming your survivalist shelter- there, there, it will be alright. People are tired of the fear-mongering, hate- building, and paranoia that your uberlords at Fox and the far-right media preach to the sheep. Please stop drinking the Kool-Ade and try using your OWN brain to form an opinion.

    October 17, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  21. AnnonUSA

    Welcome to Frank Lautenberg II. Nothing will change with another democratic yes man in power.

    October 17, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  22. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Snooki Palin kills another tea potty campaign. The Guns Over People tea potty will never learn. Rapheal Cruz double dipped
    and ran away with Koch Bros AND simpleton wingnut money.

    October 17, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  23. Road Kill

    Can't believe this clown won......

    October 17, 2013 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  24. Marie MD

    Congratulations Corey Booker.
    Poor lonegan, first he brings in the loser from AK and he dares call Booker a stand in for the President in Hollywood? The trailer trash family of reality TV?
    I sincerely hope this is the beginning of the end for the teatards in congress. The stenographer who lost it last night was correct when she said that a house divided cannot stand. The repugs need to make sure that the koch brothers any heritage anything stay out of our government halls.

    October 17, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  25. Sid

    After this shameless stint of partisan politics, I fear America will never be the same.In the past politicians often disagreed but did so in a civil manner.We have become so polarized by a small group of ultra right wing fanatics(Tea Party) who live in
    districts that are safe for them to spew their venom that to think they will become reasonable is just not realistic..

    October 17, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
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