Newark Mayor Cory Booker walks out of a polling booth after casting his vote in a special election for the vacant New Jersey seat in the U.S. Senate, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. • AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Newark Mayor Cory Booker easily won a New Jersey Senate seat Wednesday, returning Democrats to a 55-45 edge in the chamber.
Booker beat Republican Steve Lonegan in the special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.
The election is the first since the partial federal government shutdown began more than two weeks ago. It came the same day Senate leaders announced a deal had been struck to reopen the government and avert a Treasury default.
The two-month campaign played out under a compressed schedule and was the subject of controversy even before the two candidates were chosen, AP reported. Republican Gov. Chris Christie appointed a GOP caretaker and ordered the election held Oct. 16, the soonest date the law allowed following an unprecedented August primary.
Critics accused the governor of keeping the race off the Nov. 5 ballot, when he is up for re-election, to make it easier for him to win big as a Republican in a Democratic-leaning state and aid his potential national ambitions. During his first debate, he refused to rule out a run for president in 2016.
Booker, 44, enters the Senate with a wealth of political experience in Newark, having served as city councilman before winning the mayoralty. He also brings sterling academic credentials - " undergraduate at Stanford, Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School.
The Senate will now have two African-American members - Booker and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who was appointed in January. The chamber had another African-American member, Mo Cowan (D-Mass.), for about five months this year, as he served a short-term appointment.
Politix, and via AP.