By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 17 2013 1:56 PM ET
Newark, N.J., mayor Cory Booker last night secured the seat vacated in the U.S. Senate when longtime senator Frank Lautenberg died earlier this year.
Booker, a popular Democrat who was heavily favored in polls leading up to the Wednesday vote, beat his opponent, Republican Steve Lonegan, by as much as 11 points, according to Reuters.
At a victory celebration in Newark, Booker commended New Jersey voters for turning out in force for a special election held during a contentious government shutdown and just three weeks before a gubernatorial election.
"It would have been easy to listen to this frustrating negativity and stay home today," said Booker, according to Reuters. "But here in New Jersey, more than a million people rejected cynicism and came out on a Wednesday, in the middle of October, three weeks before we have another election, to fight the cynicism. You didn't just vote, you believed that your vote and choice mattered."
Booker has a long history as a strong LGBT ally. He was an outspoken supporter of the Democratic Party's platform formally including marriage equality last year, and wrote a column in 1992 detailing his personal transition from homophobe to LGBT ally. When rumors that he might be gay continued to dog his Senate campaign, Booker refused to address them or be ashamed, telling MSNBC's Chris Hayes, "People who think I'm gay, some part of me thinks it's wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia."
Out MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow took a moment out of her coverage of the government shutdown to welcome the newly minted Senator Booker to Washington, D.C.
"Welcome to Washington, Senator Booker," said Maddow. "Fun times await you." Watch her announcement below.