Newark Mayor Cory Booker cruised to a 55 to 44 win over Republican Steve Lonegan in the special U.S. Senate election Wednesday. Booker, famous for his use of social media, thanked supporters via Twitter before speaking to them at NJPAC in Newark.
“I’m going down to make the senate more accessible to all of us,” Booker said. “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. 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”
Booker, a Democrat, says even as a senator, he can’t accomplish much alone.
“We must continue to work, the service and the sacrifice has to continue to make America great. We can’t sit on our laurels and hope other people do it. We all must join together and push forward because there is work to do.”
He also paid tribute to former Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. Booker will serve out the rest of Lautenberg’s term and will have to run again next year to keep the job. He had been preparing to run for the seat in 2014 even before Lautenberg’s death. Though the former senator’s family did not endorse Booker in the August Democratic primary. Instead they backed Rep. Frank Pallone, a long-time ally of Lautenberg’s.
After conceding the race, Lonegan thanked his supporters. While the message he delivered with energy and passion did not win the day, he said he came closer to winning the election than anyone expected.”The big Washington power groups and consultants said we couldn’t win. Well maybe if they had played a role in this election we would have won.”
Lonegan says his 20 years in politics, including unsuccessful bids for governor, have been a wonderful experience, but he’s had enough.
“I’m going to go back into the private sector. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and build a business and create jobs, and I think my wife probably likes to hear that,” Lonegan said.
Both Lonegan and Booker used national leaders from their parties to try to spur turnout for a special election in mid-October. Booker touted endorsements from President Obama among others while Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Rand Paul and Gov. Chris Christie all worked for Lonegan.
Another U.S. Senate win for Democrats extends the GOP’s decades-long losing streak in New Jersey. The last time a Republican won a senate election in the Garden State was 1972.
It also comes few weeks before New Jersey voters will elect a governor and every seat in the state legislature. Critics have said Gov. Christie should not have scheduled this special October election in addition to the special primary in August. They point to the extra $12 million dollars it costs to open polling places statewide for just one race.