TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Democrat Cory Booker thanked New Jerseyans for coming out to vote Wednesday, as he won the special election to complete the final year of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term.READ MORE: Candidate Conversations: Jack Ciattarelli
The polls closed at 8 p.m. statewide. The Associated Press declared Booker the winner over Republican Steve Lonegan shortly after 9:30 p.m.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Booker had captured 55 percent of the vote to 44 percent for Lonegan. Six other candidates were also in the race.
“Thank you so much, New Jersey. I’m proud to be your senator-elect,” Booker tweeted around 9:40 p.m., along with a virtual card reading, “We did it!”
Soon afterward, Booker addressed his supporters in person at the Victoria Theater at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday night, the Newark Boys Choir took the stage right before Booker, who proclaimed that Mr. Booker is going to Washington.
Booker was speaking to the crowd at 10:05 p.m. He began by praising Lautenberg and his record.
“He was great because he not only built at great American business, but he also served our country with honor and distinction in war as well as peace,” Booker said.
He also thanked the people of New Jersey for coming out to vote in an election where low turnout might not have been a surprise.
“We’re cynical about Washington actually working for us, and it would have been easy to listen to this frustrating negativity, and stay home today,” Booker said. “But here in New Jersey, more than 1 million people rejected cynicism and came out on a Wednesday – not in November, but in the middle of October.”
Booker is a Stanford, Yale, and Yale Law School alumnus and was a Rhodes Scholar. He is a vegetarian, and he has 1.4 million followers on Twitter – five times the population of the city he leads.
“I stand here right now because of that great American spirit – the spirit of activism and engagement in going above and beyond the call of duty,” he said.
Booker has gained a reputation for his personal involvement in public service, having lived on a food-stamp budget for a week, shoveled a constituent’s driveway, and allowed Superstorm Sandy victims to live in his home. But now, Kramer reported, he will go to Washington at a time of deep partisan divide and dysfunction.