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Newark Mayor Cory Booker wins N.J. Dem Senate primary

Newark Mayor Cory Booker moved a step closer to becoming New Jersey’s first African-American U.S. senator Tuesday when voters gave him a wide victory in the Democratic primary.

Booker will face Republican Steve Lonegan, former mayor of Bogota, N.J., in a special election Oct. 16.

Lonegan, who was state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, won his Republican primary Tuesday against physician Alieta Eck.

Turnout was low for the election to fill the seat of the late Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, who died in June at age 89.

Booker told his supporters Tuesday night after he was declared the winner, “If you want someone in Washington who plays by the same old rules, find someone else. I’m going to the Senate the same way I came to Newark, determined to be a positive force ‚Ä1/8 to be innovative, to be creative, to do what’s necessary to create progress.”

Lonegan, in his fiery victory speech in Secaucus, N.J., blasted Booker as a candidate “anointed by Hollywood” and the top choice of “Silicon Valley moguls” who want to make him California’s third U.S. senator.

Booker leveraged his national name into prodigious fundraising. With the help of such friends as Oprah Winfrey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he brought in more than $8.6 million, well ahead of his rivals. Booker defeated two members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, as well as Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

Booker, 44, argued that his high profile would allow him to be more effective in Washington. “I find ways to break through the noise of the country and more effectively advocate and get things done,” he told the Asbury Park Press last month.

He was the front-runner from the moment he indicated in December that he wanted to run -- even before Lautenberg declared whether he intended to seek re-election. Lautenberg ultimately said he would not run, then died in June, setting up the special election.

Booker’s choice to run for the Senate disappointed some Democrats who hoped he would challenge popular Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who is up for re-election in November.



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