Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) was elected on Wednesday night to become New Jersey's first African-American U.S. Senate member, the Washington Post reported.

The race, widely expected to go Booker's way, was called by the Associated Press with Booker leading Republican contender Steve Lonegan 55 percent to 44 percent. By 10 p.m. EST, with 75 percent of precincts reporting, the New York Times showed Lonegan had not been able to close the gap.

Booker, who won the Democratic primary in August, will enter the Senate for a 15-month sting, as he serves out the remainder of Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D) term. Lautenberg died of pneumonia on June 3. McClatchy DC reported that the bipartisan Senate deal ending the federal government shutdown includes a $174,000 "death gratuity" regularly given to the spouses of lawmakers who die while in office.

[Image via MSNBC]