Were it not for the recent constitutional crisis, New Jersey’s U.S. Senate special election likely would have been an even bigger political story.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker will soon be headed to Washington as the next New Jersey senator.The Democratic nominee bested Republican Steve Lonegan in Wednesday’s special election to succeed the late Frank Lautenberg. With just over half of the vote in, the Associated Press called the race for Booker, who was leading 55%-44%.
The final margin showed Booker winning by roughly 11 points. He’ll serve the remaining 15 months of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) term, will run for his first full term in next year’s midterm elections.
Lonegan, the far-right former mayor of Bogata, suffered the latest in a string of statewide defeats, but told supporters he was taking the news in stride. “I said to myself, ‘Who wants that job anyway?’” I’ve followed campaign politics for quite a while, and I’m fairly certain I’ve never heard a candidate say this the same day as the election itself.
There’s some ambiguity as to when, exactly, the senator-elect will be sworn into office. Gov. Chris Christie (R), who scheduled yesterday’s election for a Wednesday in mid-October because he was afraid to be on the same ballot as Booker, has until Nov. 13 to certify the results. That said, few expect the governor to take that long.
Once Booker takes the oath, the Senate Democrats will expand their majority to 55 (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the majority party).
The New Jersey Democrat will also make some history: he’ll be only the ninth African American to ever serve in the U.S. Senate and only the fourth to make it to the Senate by way of a popular-vote election (as opposed to five African-American senators who were appointed to the office).
The 100-member Senate will now also have two African-American members at the same time – Booker will serve alongside Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who was appointed to the chamber earlier this year.