Cory Booker, 44, the charismatic and popular former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was sworn-in by Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday as the new senator from the Garden State, reports The Hill.
Booker is the first African American to represent the state of New Jersey in the United States Senate.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Booker defeated his Republican opponent Steve Lonegan, who ran an arguably homophobic and contentious campaign, in a special election Oct. 16 to fill out the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Booker’s election brings the number of the Democratic caucus — 53 Democrats and 2 Independents — in the Senate to fifty-five.
“We’re 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 joins Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) as one of two Black senators currently serving. There have been just nine Black senators in U.S. history, and Booker is only the fourth to be popularly elected. He is the third Black senator to be elected since now President Barack Obama in 2004.
Though Booker’s resignation as mayor of Newark became effective Thursday at midnight, the newly-minted senator assured his city that he will always be a native son.
“While I am leaving one position, I am not leaving Newark,” Booker said in his resignation letter. “I am proud to be able to now represent Newark and our entire state as a United States senator. My level of dedication, passion and service will not falter as I serve New Jersey.”
Booker’s mother Carolyn Booker was supporting him in the gallery during his swearing-in. His father Cary Booker, 76, died on October 10 after a long bout with Parkinson disease.
Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also attended, as did Scott, who was one of only three Republicans to do so.
Booker hit the ground running in his position, casting his first vote as senator immediately after his swearing-in and meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, reports USA Today.
See footage of Booker’s swearing in below: