Newark Mayor Cory Booker won the Democratic primary for New Jersey’s Senate seat Tuesday and will face Republican Steve Lonegan.
Booker, known as a prodigious Twitter user, tweeted: “Honored to receive Dem nomination for New Jersey Senate today. This is our victory - thank you.”
Both races were called by the Associated Press less than an hour after the polls closed at 8 p.m. EDT.
With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Booker had 61 percent of the vote, Rep. Frank Pallone 19 percent, Rep. Rush Holt 14 percent and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver had 5 percent, the Record reported.
Lonegan, a former mayor of tiny Bogota in Bergen County and a statewide conservative leader, had 80 percent of the Republican vote to 20 percent for Alieta Eck, a doctor who has never run for office before.
Booker, 44, and Lonegan, 57, will face off in a special election Oct. 16 to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat who died June 3 at the age of 89. New Jersey has not elected a Republican U.S. senator since 1972.
To fill the seat, Republican Gov. Chris Christie called the Aug. 13 primary and set a special election for Oct. 16, three weeks ahead of the Nov. 5 general election, when he is seeking re-election.
Democrats charged that the two fall elections should have been scheduled for the same day but that Christie was avoiding being on the same ballot as Booker, who could attract both strong Democratic and minority turnout.
If elected, Booker will become the first black senator elected from New Jersey. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is also African-American.
At Lonegan’s victory rally, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., said, "I think he will do much better than expected. The race will be fought on the issues, and the principal issue is the state of the American economy, and the fact that we have to be more fiscally responsible in Washington."
Longtime Lonegan supporters, including tea party leaders from across the state, took the stage as results came in and hailed their candidate as an anti-abortion, anti-tax conservative hero, The Star-Ledger reported.