Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey was sworn in to the Senate on Thursday, met by the hugs and handshakes of his new colleagues and an almost unheard of standing ovation in the chamber.
The Senate Gallery was packed with supporters and onlookers to witness Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, get sworn in by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. In a chamber ruled by strict rules of decorum, Booker received not one but two standing ovations — first when he finished his oath of office and again when he cast his first vote moments later. Booker was so busy greeting senators that he appeared startled when he heard the clerk call his name in the roll for the very first time.
Television anchor and best friend of Oprah Winfrey, Gail King, was spotted at the top of the gallery, as well as the widow of and former chief of staff to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., whom Booker was elected to succeed.
Elated Democrats received Booker, the outgoing mayor of Newark, warmly on the floor, with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., giving the new senator a fist bump after they hugged.
Before the swearing-in took place, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., again praised Booker's academic and athletic prowess, calling the New Jersey Democrat's time as a tight end at Stanford University his "most impressive qualification" for Senate service.