Cory Booker, who captured national attention as Newark’s charismatic mayor, now joins the world’s most exclusive political club after a U.S. Senate campaign built on big ideas and the vow to be a healer in politically polarized Washington.

Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan in the U.S. Senate special election Wednesday following a bruising campaign, and will head to D.C. at a time when Congress has been torn apart by the very partisan politics he railed against on the campaign trail.

"He’s going to be the kind of senator who’s going to gravitate toward the getting-things-done caucus," said Booker spokesman Kevin Griffis. "He’s going to be someone who’s going to look to forge partnerships wherever he can to make progress for New Jersey families."

But it won’t be easy. While the center-left Booker outlined ideas on the campaign trail such as government-funded college funds for poor kids, renewal of the assault weapons ban and instituting comprehensive climate-change legislation, he’ll likely find progress slow-going in the Senate, which puts more value on seniority and procedure than personal magnetism.

Not to mention that Booker, who will now serve the remaining 15 months of the late U.S.Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term, will have to start running for his 2014 re-election virtually the day he’s sworn in.