Cory Booker Defeats Trump Loyalist for Second Senate Term

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Cory Booker, the former mayor of New Jersey’s largest city and onetime Democratic presidential candidate, scored a second U.S. Senate term over a Republican who had raised scant campaign cash and downplayed the novel coronavirus.

With 51% of precincts reporting, Booker had 61% of the vote to 38% for Rik Mehta, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and political newcomer, according to the Associated Press. New Jersey hasn’t sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

Booker, 51, was backed by a campaign fund and other accounts that as of Nov. 1 had raised $14.5 million. Mehta, 42, had reported just $564,000, more than half of it a loan backed by the candidate, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Booker won a special election in 2013 over Republican Bob Hugin to fill the seat of the late Frank Lautenberg, a fellow Democrat. Hugin, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Celgene Corp., had spent $36 million of his own fortune on that race.

In January, Booker ended his 2020 presidential campaign after failing to qualify for a candidates’ debate. A progressive champion of marijuana legalization and criminal reform, same-sex marriage, a $15 federal minimum wage and stricter gun laws, Booker faced a challenger who showed unabashed support for Donald Trump in a state where the president is unpopular.

Mehta on Twitter said he and his wife attended a Trump fundraiser in Bedminster on Oct. 1, less than 24 hours before the White House disclosed that the president was positive for the coronavirus. In response to Governor Phil Murphy’s suggestion that all attendees quarantine, Mehta said Murphy was fear mongering, and there was no need to do so.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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