Cory Booker Wins Fight for Senate Seat | Teachers College Columbia University

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Cory Booker Wins Fight for Senate Seat

TC Trustee Cory Booker, the two-term Mayor of Newark, has been elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election called in June following the death of longtime New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.

TC Trustee Cory Booker , the two-term Mayor of Newark, has been elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican Steve Lonegan by an 11 percentage point margin in a special election that was called this past June following the death of long-time New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.

Booker, 44, campaigned on his accomplishments in reducing violent crime, bringing a new infusion of private funding to Newark’s charter schools, and making inroads against the inter-generational cycle of poverty that afflicts a substantial portion of the city’s population. But during the closing weeks of the election, he also portrayed the choice between himself and his opponent as a referendum on the recent government shutdown, which ended yesterday.

Booker attended Stanford University, where he was an All-Pacific 10 football player, won a Rhodes scholarship and subsequently earned a law degree from Yale. He began his political career as a member of Newark’s City Council. He came to national prominence when he protested the lack of police protection in the city’s slums by camping out in a tent on a corner notorious for gangs and drug dealers.  His first mayoral bid, when he lost to the incumbent Sharpe James in 2002 by just 3,500 votes, became the subject of the award-winning documentary “Street Fight.” He defeated James in 2006, recording the largest margin of victory in city history. His first year in office was the focus of a 10-part series in the New York Times, and subsequently he and members of his administration were real-life characters in “Brick City,” a docudrama on the Sundance Channel that was co-produced by the actor Forest Whitaker.  

Beyond his star power, though, Booker was able to draw on significant bragging points during the recent campaign. His web site reports that, on his watch, Newark has recorded its biggest period of economic growth since the 1960s and is now the site of more than one-third of all new commercial and multi-family development in New Jersey. He has convinced companies such as, Panasonic North America, and Manischewitz to establish their corporate headquarters in Newark, and he persuaded Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to make a $100 million gift to improve K-12 education.

Booker will serve the remaining 15 months of Lautenberg’s term.

Check out a profile of Booker that appeared in TC Today magazine in 2009.

Published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013