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Cory Booker’s Senate win reveals sad facts about Congress

cory bookerNow that Newark, N.J. mayor Corey Booker has emerged victorious in his election to occupy the senate seat in the state of New Jersey, some rather disturbing and ultimately repugnant facts have been revealed about service in Congress.

Booker won a special election to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, beating Republican challenger Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bergen County’s Bogota, with nearly 55 percent of the vote (724,733 votes), according to election results. Lonegan received 44 percent of the vote (584,349).

The rising star of the Democratic Party should be celebrated, but here are some glaring numbers about the senate and congress in general:

  • Booker is just the second black member currently in the U.S. Senate, along with Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
  • Booker was only the fourth African-American elected to the upper chamber by popular vote, joining current President Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) and Edward William Brooke (R-Mass.).
  • Booker is just the ninth person to be elected to selected to serve in the senate in U.S. history.
  • ThinkProgress noted that five other African-Americans, headed by Scott, have served in the Senate. But each was either appointed by governors to fill vacancies, or selected by state legislatures before direct elections were in place.

NBC News outlined several trends for African-American politicians over the last half century. Among the notables:

  • Back in 1963, Congress had five black members. As of 2013, that number ballooned to 41 members.
  • Earlier in 2013, Scott and former Sen. Mo Cowan (D-Mass.) served in the Senate together, marking the first time two African-American were serving together. Cowan was appointed to temporarily fill the vacant seat of Secretary of State John Kerry.
  • Scott is favored to win a full term in 2014, and if he can do so, it would make him the first African-American to win a Senate seat by popular vote in the South.
  • If Booker and Scott both win full terms in 2014, it would mark the first time two African-American senators were elected by popular vote.