There was a special election in New Jersey yesterday to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Frank Lautenberg who died earlier this year from pneumonia. New Jersey, you may remember, is currently run by Governor Chris Christie who was the Republican flavor of the moment prior to Ted Cruz. Christie took a bit of heat for calling the special election from pretty much everyone. He refused to appoint a Senator which pissed off the Republicans and he called for a special election instead of holding the election on the regular election date which pissed off Democrats since voter turnout would be much more difficult. The special election also cost New Jersey millions of dollars more which pissed of governmental waste hawks like Chris Christie. Ha! Just kidding, there are no governmental waste hawks in government.
Anyway, the special election was between Democratic Newark Mayor Corey Booker and Republican perennial candidate for something Steve Lonegan. The fact that this was a special election usually puts the Democratic candidate in a tough position since turnout for off cycle elections like this generally favor the Republican. Corey Booker fairly handily beat Steve Lonegan with 54% of the vote despite this. That means that Corey Booker is only the fourth African-American to be elected to the U.S. Senate. He is also the first African-American to be elected to the U.S. Senate via a special election. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. It reflects the changing political landscape in New Jersey, but I would also argue in the whole country.
A black man was able to bring enough people to the polls in an off election. This should strike fear in the hearts of the Republican party. Without significant minority outreach, they will just continue to look more and more like the fringe political party they are.