WASHINGTON (APP) -- New Jersey's Cory Booker was sworn into
the Senate on Thursday, the latest chapter in the former Newark mayor's
meteoric rise to stardom.
Democrat, is the first black senator from New Jersey and the first black
senator elected since President Barack Obama won his Illinois seat in
following his swearing-in, Booker was to cast his first vote as a
senator, a procedural matter allowing for a vote on Obama's nominee to
head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
He also was to join Vice President Joe Biden for a ceremonial swearing-in and meet with Obama in the White House Oval Office.
going to find Cory Booker is going to be a great asset to this nation
and the Senate," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "We're
very fortunate to have this good man in the Senate. He'll serve his
state and our nation with distinction."
Booker and his mother, Carolyn, were surrounded by media earlier in the day when they posed for a photo with Reid.
addition to his mother, Booker, 44, was joined at the U.S. Capitol by
his brother, Cary, and a host of other family members. His father died
earlier this month after a long bout with Parkinson's disease.
Booker resigned as mayor of Newark at midnight Wednesday after serving seven years.
His Senate committee assignments were not yet known.
The Senate's party breakdown is now 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two independents who caucus with Democrats.
replaces Republican Sen. Jeff Chiesa, who was appointed to the seat
following the June 3 death of longtime Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in an Oct. 16 special
Booker will serve out the remainder of Lautenberg's term, which ends in 2014. He plans to run for re-election.
Jersey is now the first state to be represented by a black and a Latino
senator -- Democrat Robert Menendez, who is Cuban American -- at the
same time. Slightly more than 42 percent of New Jersey's population is
black and Latino.
"The New Jersey Senate delegation is a glimpse at the very near
future of American politics," said Matt Barreto, a political scientist
at the University of Washington and director of the Washington Institute
for the Study of Ethnicity & Race. "The lesson from 2012 was very
clear -- the electorate is getting more and more diverse and this will
be reflected in our representatives in Congress."
Booker joins Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who was appointed in January, as the only black senators.
After he won New Jersey's special election, Booker played down the impact of his race and its role in his campaign.
one thing I have to say that I love about Jersey is, there are people
in my circle â€1/8 that said, 'Oh, it's going to be a big issue, a black
guy running around the state,' and it wasn't," Booker told NJTV. "I
can't think of a time really it came up and that's a tribute to New
Neither Booker nor Menendez has a history of emphasizing race and ethnicity as central to his candidacy.
Booker's race and Menendez's 2006 campaign, "race and ethnicity were
never major issues that were brought up," said Patrick Murray, director
of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "They were not thought of
as the candidates who were running as representatives of their race and
racial diversity is changing in the Senate, the number of minorities in
the chamber does not come close to the nation's population as a whole.
The United States is about 35 percent minority, and there are two
blacks, one Asian American and three Hispanics now in the Senate.
a sign to Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist and
author of a book about Booker's rise in politics, that New Jersey's
milestone of having a black and a Latino senator serving together is
still count on one hand and probably will for the foreseeable future,"
Gillespie said about minorities in the Senate. "We turned a corner, but
we haven't completely arrived to a post-racial dream where it shouldn't