Rising Democratic star Cory Booker has won a special election to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.

The Newark mayor defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in an abbreviated campaign of stark policy and style differences.

Booker will become the first black senator from New Jersey. He is filling the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Booker has built a national following for his consensus-building and his personal story. He was a suburbanite who went to Stanford and Yale Law before moving into a tough Newark neighborhood promising to do good before he ran for office. He's also been a pioneering politician on Twitter.

Lonegan is a conservative former mayor of the town of Bogota. He dismissed Booker as more connected to Hollywood and the Silicon Valley than New Jersey.

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9:52 p.m. - 67 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 491,940 or 56%

Steve Lonegan =  382,071 or 43%

New Jersey's social media-happy incoming senator has given his first reaction to his election victory with a tweet.

Cory Booker says, "Thank you so much, New Jersey. I'm proud to be your Senator-elect."

With two-thirds percent of precincts reporting, the Democratic mayor of Newark has 56 percent of the vote to Republican Steve Lonegan's 43.

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9:38 p.m. - 55 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 394,870 or 55%

Steve Lonegan = 313,926 or 44%

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9:30 p.m. - Associated Press projects Cory Booker will win the U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey

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9:28 p.m. - 46 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 337,993 or 56%

Steve Lonegan = 259,881 or 43%

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9:16 p.m. - 39 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 285,218 or 55%

Steve Lonegan = 226,698 or 44%

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9:06 p.m. - 26 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 190,415 or 52%

Steve Lonegan = 170,945 or 47%

 

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8:59 p.m. - 22 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 160,840 or 52%

Steve Lonegan = 142,238 votes or 46%

 

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8:46 p.m. - 12 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 89,699 or 53%

Steve Lonegan = 78,741 votes or 46%

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8:35 p.m. - 3 percent of the precincts reporting statewide

Cory Booker = 37,671 votes or 54%

Steve Lonegan = 31,583 votes or 45%

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The polls in New Jersey closed at 8 p.m. and the vote count is underway.  

The outcome will determine who will be sent to Washington D.C. to finish the term of the late Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died at the age of 89 in June. 

Democratic candidate Cory Booker and his supporters will be watching the returns from the Victoria Theater inside the the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark.
WHYY's Tom MacDonald will have live updates tonight on WHYY-FM.

Republican candidate Steve Lonegan and his supporters will be at the Bridgewater Manor catering facility in Bridgewater. WHYY's Phil Gregory will call in updates tonight on WHYY-FM.

Earlier in the day, both men cast their ballots Cory Booker at an apartment complex in downtown Newark, while Steve Lonegan cast his ballot in his hometown of Bogota, the town he led as mayor for three terms.

Booker today called the election a referendum on what's happening in Washington. The election is the first since the government shutdown began earlier this month. The Federal government could reopen as early as tomorrow, if a deal struck today is approved by the House and the Senate.

Lonegan expressed confidence in his chances and noted he has closed the gap between himself and Booker when many people doubted his chances.

Other candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat: 

 

Robert DePasquale 

 

Eugene Martin Lavergne

 

Stuart David Meissner

 

Pablo Olivera

 

Antonio Nico Sabas 

 

Edward C. Stackhouse Jr.