Newark Mayor Cory Booker just won the special Senate election in New Jersey, defeating the Republicans’ sacrificial lamb, Stephen Lonegan, 54-44. While the result wasn’t at all unexpected, it’s a big boon to the Democratic party, which considers Booker a rising star, and gives Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid one more Democratic vote to rely for the rest of the Senate’s term.
Booker will replace interim Senator Jeff Chiesa, who himself was appointed over the summer by Governor Chris Christie to fill out the late Frank Lautenberg’s term. Lautenberg was a Democrat but Chiesa, like Christie, is a Republican. As such, Booker’s ascension to the Senate will give Democrats a vote in the chamber that they hadn’t been able to rely on for the last couple of months.
In the Senate, Booker would represent the second wealthiest state in the country — from the perspective of a resident of the state's most struggling city. He could help fix Washington's empathy problem with his unique ability to connect with constituents. He's outspoken and yet not politically polarizing; the kind of presence that could help push through this endless political gridlock.
If you’re curious as to why Booker is considered such a promising prospect for Democrats, we highly recommend the documentary Street Fight, about his 2002 mayoral campaign.