Staunch LGBT ally Cory Booker has become the first African-American elected to the US Senate since Barack Obama in 2004.
The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is a rising political star in the Democratic party who won a special election against Republican candidate Steve Lonegan. They were running to fill what remains of the term of the late Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg, who died in June.
Booker, 44, will be up for reelection again next year.
‘Despite the cynicism and the negativity we often see on TV, despite a special election, New Jerseyans, hundreds of thousands, rejected all that and came out and voted,’ Booker told supporters after the results were in.
‘More than that,’ he added, ‘you didn’t just vote, but you believed that your voice and your vote mattered.’
Booker, who has never been married, has been the subject of gay rumors. One of Lonegan’s senior aides, Rick Shaftan, was fired from the campaign last week for comments he made suggesting Booker is gay.
Booker had a unique response to the sexuality issue in an interview with the Washington Post over the summer.
‘…People who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia,’ he said.
‘I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, "So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight."’
Booker did say that it is to his ‘great dismay’ that ‘I have not settled down with a life partner.’