The Associated Press called the race for the New Jersey Democrat shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
Booker, the first Black elected to the Senate from New Jersey, defeated Republican Rik Mehta, according to the AP’s projection.
Booker was first elected in 2015 to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and then won a full term the following November.
New Jerseyans have not elected a Republican U.S. senator since Clifford Case in 1972. The GOP has now lost every U.S. Senate election since 1976 when Democratic U.S. Sen. Harrison Williams won a fourth term.
Having overwhelmed Mehta in fundraising — he raised $7.3 million for his re-election through Oct. 14 while Mehta raised just $248,956 and lent his campaign $315,000 — Booker was never in much trouble and neither candidate advertised much.
Mehta, a pharmacist. lawyer, and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official, emphasized his expertise in public health.. Mehta once accused Gov. Phil Murphy of “fear mongering” by recommending that Mehta and others who attended a Bedminster fundraiser shortly before President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus should quarantine.
Booker’s front-runner status in New Jersey allowed him to travel to swing states on behalf of Joe Biden and help fill the campaign coffers of Biden and Senate Democratic candidates rather than focus exclusively on his own race.
Even after Booker ended his presidential run, President Donald Trump continued to attack him on the campaign trail, charging without evidence in September that he would run Joe Biden’s effort bring low-income housing (and crime) to suburban communities.
“I’m surprised how much real estate I’m taking up in his head,” Booker said in an interview.
Booker saw one of his top legislative priorities become law in December 2018 when Trump signed a bipartisan law to offer alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders and ways of reducing unduly harsh sentences for those already behind bars.
“That was one of the things that most people thought we couldn’t get done and we did,” Booker said. “If you measure something by the degree of difficulty, that was clearly my greatest accomplishment.”