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. mike

    another one bites the dust another one another one another right wing crazy bites the dust hay hay .well done to the sane party .

    October 17, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  2. mr choi

    Americas bigges enemy its not alquaeda its the TEA PARTY.

    October 17, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  3. Tom

    Down with the Tea Party!

    October 17, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  4. shyteacher

    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.

    October 17, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  5. jj

    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!

    October 17, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  6. krhodes

    Well it figures...runaway state debt and high unemployment...sounds like a dem state to me.

    October 17, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  7. Jack Mayhoffer

    Congratulations Cory!!!!


    October 17, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  8. John Tucker

    He doesn't even live there.

    October 17, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  9. Anthony in California

    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?
    Infrastructure Building?
    Number 1 First World Country without a working Government?


    Got it.
    Thanks for playing.

    October 17, 2013 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  10. macbaldy

    @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.

    October 17, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  11. Stanley Haas

    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.

    October 17, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  12. Kona

    Tea Party loses again!

    October 17, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  13. barBarS

    KD....we aren't #1 NOW!!! WAKE UP!!!!

    October 17, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  14. alex

    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.

    October 17, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  15. Phelix Unger

    Jesus did it

    October 17, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  16. Michael

    Is it any wonder Lonegan lost with Palin backing him? She is poisonous to everyone's campaign.

    October 17, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  17. yerkiddinright

    Kd – take your meds and hush.

    October 17, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  18. Mary Mcginnis

    Congrats to New Jersey.We need more like him in our Congress.

    October 17, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  19. nunya

    What a wonderful article – no mention at all of what the vote was...

    October 17, 2013 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  20. EarthWorm

    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!

    October 17, 2013 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  21. Palintologist

    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.

    October 17, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  22. RichardSRussell

    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?

    October 17, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  23. RichardSRussell

    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?

    October 17, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  24. Sandra Tambini

    The first of MANY such wins for the Dems. All I can say is.... America is finally going to become The Beautiful!

    October 17, 2013 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  25. GenaBena

    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!

    October 17, 2013 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
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