NEWARK, N.J. — Rising Democratic star Cory Booker, the high-profile mayor of New Jersey's biggest city, will become just the second African-American in the Senate after winning a special election.
Booker said he was able to help turn around the long-struggling city of Newark and could help channel Americans' frustration with Washington into something positive after a long, bitter fiscal feud.
"I think everybody feels there's fatigue and frustration with how things are, which creates a great climate for change," Booker said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." ''Often before you have great victory, you have to have great frustration."
Wednesday's agreement in Washington to re-open the federal government and avert a default overshadowed Booker's victory over conservative Republican Steven Lonegan in New Jersey.
The 44-year-old Booker has long been touted as a member of a new generation of Black politicians like Barack Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick who can win statewide elections. Booker was a prominent supporter of Obama during the president's 2012 re-election campaign.
Booker was elected to complete the 15 months remaining on the term of Frank Lautenberg, whose death in June at age 89 gave rise to an unusual and abbreviated campaign. If Booker wants to keep the seat for a full six-year term — and all indications are that he does — he will be on the ballot again in November 2014.
Booker heads to Washington with an unusual political resume. He was raised in the suburbs as the son of two of the first Black IBM executives, and graduated from Stanford and law school at Yale with a stint in between as a Rhodes Scholar before moving to one of Newark's toughest neighborhoods.
He's been an unconventional politician, a former college football player and a vegetarian with a Twitter following of 1.4 million — or five times the population of Newark. With dwindling state funding, he has used private fundraising, including a $100 million pledge from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to run programs in Newark, a strategy that has brought his city resources and him both fame and criticism.
Throughout the campaign, Lonegan was aggressive, criticizing Booker during a string of homicides in Newark, holding a red carpet event in rally to mock the time Booker spent fundraising in California and declaring that "New Jersey needs a leader, not a tweeter."
Lonegan also criticized Booker when a Portland, Oregon, stripper revealed a series of not-so-salacious Twitter messages she'd exchanged with Booker, who is single. The topic resurfaced last week when Lonegan fired a key adviser after a profane interview in which the adviser suggested Booker's words were "like what a gay guy would say to a stripper."
Lonegan had called it "strange" that Booker won't say whether he's gay. Booker, for his part, has said his sexuality should not matter to voters and has been elusive on the subject.
At a debate this month, Lonegan responded to Booker's comments about the need for environmental regulations to clean a river through Newark. "You may not be able to swim in that river," he said. "But it's probably, I think, because of all the bodies floating around of shooting victims in your city."
Booker seemed stunned at the remark, and his campaign has criticized Lonegan for it.
Both candidates drew on some big names for support — Oprah Winfrey helped raise funds for Booker, former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigned for Lonegan.
Booker will join Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina as the only Black members of the 100-seat U.S. Senate. Scott was appointed by the state's governor to fill a vacancy, meaning Booker is the first African-American to win a Senate seat since Obama did in 2004. -- (AP)
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Corbett says he's releasing $45 million for the Philadelphia schools that his administration had held up as the state's largest school district goes through its worst financial crisis in memory.
Corbett said Wednesday that a letter received the day before from the Philadelphia school superintendent had convinced him that district officials were meeting his goals for improvements.
Corbett also says he and his wife are sending their sympathies to the family of Laporshia Massey. The school district is investigating the circumstances of the 12-year-old Philadelphia student's death.
A spokesman for Corbett says Massey's death and the release of the money aren't connected. Corbett's budget secretary, Charles Zogby, says the district's shown enough steps toward improving the financial health and academic performance of the district to release the money. -- (AP)
INKSTER, Mich. — A group of suburban Detroit residents wants to clean up and restore a house where civil rights leader Malcolm X lived in the 1950s and have it designated as a historic landmark.
The yard of the boarded-up, burned-out home in Inkster, a city hit hard by crime, blight and a declining population, was cleaned up in July, The Detroit News reported (http://bit.ly/19u4TbE ).
The nonprofit organization behind the effort, Project: We Hope, Dream and Believe, thinks the home could one day be open to tours and house some Malcolm X memorabilia.
"We want to promote it so people can see we have something positive here," Inkster resident Dawon Lynn said. "There's really been nothing positive going on in the city, so we want to let people know Malcolm did stay here and give the kids walking to school something they can be proud of."
Aaron Sims, who operates the nonprofit, led the July effort to clean up the property and a neighboring house.
He appealed for help by posting a picture of the house on Facebook with the caption: "Can we cut Malcolm X's grass." Dozens of volunteers and residents responded, cutting the lawn, clearing overgrown tree branches and picking up debris, including syringes and liquor bottles.
The weeds have since grown back, however, and vodka bottles again litter the lawn.
"When you don't share information about who lived there, people just treat it like a regular abandoned house," said Sims, a fourth-generation Inkster resident. "I don't think the owners knew too much of the history and neither do the kids in the community."
Plans for the project are expected to be discussed at an Oct. 21 city council meeting.
Malcolm X rose to fame as the chief spokesman of the Nation of Islam, a movement started in Detroit more than 80 years ago. He proclaimed the Black Muslim organization's message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization and urged Blacks to claim civil rights "by any means necessary" and referred to whites as "devils."
After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964 and making an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, he espoused a more internationalist approach to human rights and began emphasizing that he didn't view all whites as racists. He was assassinated in 1965. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — CBS says Halle Berry will star in a serialized drama coming to the network next summer.
The Oscar-winning actress will headline "Extant," a 13-episode thriller. Berry will play an astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. Her experiences lead to events that change the course of history.
The series is being made in partnership with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television, which made last summer's surprise hit for CBS, "Under the Dome." CBS announced "Extant" in August.
CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said Berry is the type of actress "you dream of collaborating with for an event project such as 'Extant.'"
The 47-year-old Berry won an Oscar in 2002 for her starring role in "Monster's Ball." -- (AP)
DANBURY, Conn. — Lauryn Hill's attorney says she has been released from federal prison after serving time for failing to pay taxes.
The singer left the facility in Connecticut on Friday. Her attorney Nathan Hochman says he hasn't had a chance to speak to his client yet.
Hill pleaded guilty last year to not paying taxes on more than $1.5 million earned from 2005 to 2007. She was sentenced in July to serve three months. Under terms of her plea agreement, she'll spend the next three months under home confinement. She lives in New Jersey.
Hill, a former member of the Fugees and winner of multiple Grammys, has said she stopped paying taxes after she dropped out of the music business to protect herself and her children, who now number six. -- (AP)