October 16th, 2013
09:52 PM ET
8 years 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.

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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."

Filed under: Cory Booker • New Jersey • Senate • special election
soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Jed Holdredge

    "Democratic are destroying this country... Jersey will be no different then the city of Detroit."

    Thanks, Danita, for your enlightening comments. You can help fight the good fight by going to Newark to teach English grammar.

    October 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. ARC

    Cory Booker for President.

    October 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Johnnie Shields

    I too am glad that Mr. Booker won, The Tea Party is trying to drag this country down. GO DEMS.

    October 17, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. emskadittle

    today the Senate, 2016 the Whitehouse Clinton/Booker 2016!

    October 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. Church of Suicidal

    You mean Sarah Palin's support wasn't enough to pull out a victory? I'm aghast....

    October 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. GTA

    There's nothing like an endorsement from Sarah Palin to scuttle a campaign....

    October 17, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  7. Robert N. constant

    This is just the beginning. Christie, who stood silent while his Republican buddies savaged the country with their shutdown, is next. Let us rid New Jersey of Tea Party Sympathizers like Christie.

    October 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. In Conclusion

    This just goes to show that Gov. Christie's coattails weren't long enough for his Republican appointee to ride on. Moral of the story - Christie is not as powerful or well-accepted as he may think he is! This election just proved that fact. Don't ever forget it!

    October 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Chicago23492

    Wow...California, Illinois, the city of Detroit...all shining models for the rest of us? People are stupid, no doubt about it.

    October 17, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. tstorm92

    So much for Sarah "crazy" Palin and that Tea Party influence, eh? Just wait till the 2014 mid terms All the people that lost their paychecks during the Republican shut down won't soon forget.

    October 17, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. BubblesB


    October 17, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. francescoles+selma

    2)The 60s,Voting Rights movement was so important to my siblings,it necessary to leave the area. My oldest brother was the late Cleophus Hobbs who was a fields representative for Student NonViolent Coordinating Council(sncc). He too, lived in New Jersey. Back to election: My kin folk KNOWS the importance of VOTING, so I know the went out on Wednesday and voted and I can asure you they VOTED for SENATOR CORY BOOKER!

    October 17, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Name

    I was thinking isn't your governor a GOP? ? So how is the other party running the garden state in the dump?

    October 17, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. nc mad as hell

    Could someone please tell me why the Tea Party is called a 'grassroots' movement? Do you really think middle class Americans are sending in their cookie jar money to forward the tea party agenda? PALEEEEEESE...look to the Koch brothers for tea party money.....this is as far away from grassroots as you could ever get!

    October 17, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Brian

    Wonderful news... I guess Palin can go back to Alaska now that she hosed up another election for her co-worker.

    October 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. FrankA

    Another democratic member of the congress of the soon to be Peoples Socialist Democratic Republic of the United States.

    October 17, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. wendel

    congratulations!!!! republicans have screwed the American people enough. Time for common sense and people who care about the average Joe

    October 17, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Malory Archer


    I remember well how it use to be when the country was under Democratic control for years.....high interest rates, unemployment, gas prices, etc.


    Oh, you mean when we were coming off a decade-long war in the jungles of southeast Asia? Yeah, wars will do that to an economy.

    October 17, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. Malory Archer

    Jed Holdredge

    "Democratic are destroying this country... Jersey will be no different then the city of Detroit."

    Thanks, Danita, for your enlightening comments. You can help fight the good fight by going to Newark to teach English grammar.


    Why do you hate Newark so much Jed?

    October 17, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. ItSoNlYmE

    Funny, just this week I heard how Booker's double digit lead was eroding rapidly because so many tea partiers were energized by the fight in Washington. And yet Booker won by a comfortable double digit margin. So much for polls, eh?

    October 17, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. Seriously...

    Look to Detroit to see what Democrats have done? or maybe New Orleans?... hmmm, this might be the problem folks.. Both Dems and Reps have solid ideas at the their core base-combined they help make for a fair and productive system....both parties unfortunately have crazy fringe elements who destroy all possibilty of compromise...and so we have a divided house... and one that won't function unless we put our collective heads together.. James Madison (who wrote the Constitution....of course we have all read THAT right?) vented about an educated, curious and informed voting base ( he was one cranky dude)... in other words, Madison expected Americans to be seriously involved and to study the political landscape ( understand the national and global perspective)–comprehend the issues and elect talented and bright representatives to Congress....just voting with ones preconcieved ideas and blood curdling racism and a 9th grade civics education doesn't help the process.. America is dwindling because we have way too many idiots... they are angry at somebody/ anybody/ everybody ...but at the end of the day we are country of simpletons ( and it's not just the teaparty–let's look at kathleen sebilius as well)...ohhh, i hate healthcare– i love miltiary– i hate that the wealthy have to pay a little extra–i hate education for the poor– BUT we love a higher stock mkt and higher home prices blah, blah, blah.....Jeez–it gets really boring... keep shutting the country down! that seems to help....Come together, People-everybody contribute, everyone THINK... That's American...

    October 17, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Freddo

    A sane voice is headed to Washington.

    Good luck, Corey. They need all the help they can get.

    October 17, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. B.R.

    I hope your all happen...Like NJ isnt screwed up enuff....

    October 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. Religious Guy

    This shows that Palin is very unpopular. Do not ask her to speak if you want to win elections.

    October 17, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. SoSad

    LOL.....................Republicans are going through an internal civil war, just sit back and watch them implode!! That's a fact!

    October 17, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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