- Category: News
17 Oct 2013
- Written by Hillary Crosley/The Root
History was made in New Jersey as Cory Booker won a United States Senate seat. The outgoing Newark mayor will be the ninth African-American member of that governing body and, at 44, one of the youngest.
This week's special election, scheduled by Gov. Chris Christie, followed the death in June of Sen. Frank Lautenburg, which left his seat open. Booker will complete the remainder of Lautenberg's term and then prepare a re-election campaign for a new vote in November 2014.
"Too many people are forgetting that the lines that divide us are nothing compared to the ties that bind us," he said in his acceptance speech at Newark's New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night, according to the New York Times. "It forgets that old saying, 'If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.'"
Booker had long been gearing up to campaign for a Senate seat; however, with Lautenburg's unexpected death, his team had to rally their efforts rather quickly. Despite the death of his own father last week and accusations from his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, that he didn't actually live in Newark, Booker's efforts paid off. Naturally, his victory gives fodder to his rumored aspirations for the White House, and to some, it is a plausible option.
"I believe he will be the next black senator, and my daughter, who has only known a black man in the White House, is pretty convinced he'll be the next black man in the White House," outgoing NAACP head Ben Jealous said at an NAACP dinner in April.
Now, Booker is one step closer, pulling in 55 percent of the votes and perhaps becoming a name that's tossed around for a vice presidential seat in 2016, according to the New York Times. Still, glitz and glamour aside, if the recent government shutdown has taught American voters anything, it is that the Senate is where rubber meets the road, and Booker must now prove himself in the elevated seats of Washington.
Booker, whose brother, Cary booker, co-founded Omni Prep Academy Charter School in Memphis, will be one of two African-Americans in the Senate when he is sworn in. Republican Tim Scott serves in South Carolina, where he was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, who left to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The U.S. Senate has never had more than two African Americans serving at the same time. That mark was reached briefly earlier this year when Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick appointed William "Mo" Cowan to fill a vacant seat. Cowan departed after a special election in June. The seat held by Scott will be contested in an election next year. Eight African Americans have served in the U.S. Senate, with only three elected by their constituents.
(Hillary Crosley is The Root's New York bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter.)
(This story includes reporting by The New Tri-State Defender staff.)