Voters gave New Jersey’s first African American senator Cory Booker six more years to find bipartisan support for solutions to America’s problems. Booker, who was reelected over Republican and staunch conservative Jeff Bell, had raised nearly $4 million in campaign funds and touted bills he cosponsored with conservative senators.
“I’m looking forward in politics to being someone who represents the best of New Jersey values, the best of our nation’s values,” Booker, surrounded by members of his family, told cheering supporters in Newark in his victory speech Tuesday night. “We need to define ourselves not by how well we tear down each other, but by how well we build up America. That is our goal.”
Booker, 45, was only the ninth African American to head to the upper House of the United States Congress in 224 years after last year’s special election, when he became one of 535 members of the 113th Congress which has been locked in partisan warfare and political gridlock, making it the least productive and most polarized legislative branch in American history.
Booker will be joined by Sen. Tim Scott. South Carolina voters elected the first African-American candidate to a statewide seat since the Civil War and Reconstruction. The win also makes him the first ever African American to serve in both the House and Senate.
On Tuesday night, the Republicans won control of the Senate in the US mid-term elections, increasing their power in the final two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The Republicans also increased their grip on the House of Representatives and now control both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2006.
Congress has been deeply divided on issues such as health care and the economy that produced gridlock over the past four years. Booker issued a call for unity and pledged to work with Republicans across the aisle. “We need to define ourselves, not by how well we tear each other down, but by how well we build up America,” Booker said last night.