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Hedge funders couldn't be happier about this politician

A new senator is coming to Washington, and hedge fund managers couldn't be more excited.

Cory Booker, Newark Mayor and newly-elected Democratic U.S. Senator, speaks after winning a special election against Republican Steve Lonegan on October 16, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
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Cory Booker, Newark Mayor and newly-elected Democratic U.S. Senator, speaks after winning a special election against Republican Steve Lonegan on October 16, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.

Democrat Cory Booker beat Republican challenger Steve Lonegan in a special election this week to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.

Booker, now the mayor of Newark, has received financial support from some of the biggest names in investing.

Backers include Seth Klarman of Baupost Group, Julian Robertson of Tiger Management, retired hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, John Griffin of Blue Ridge Capital, David Greenspan of Slate Path Capital and Rick Gerson of Falcon Edge Capital.

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Together, they helped Booker crush Lonegan in fundraising. Booker collected $11.2 million to Lonegan's $1.35 million as of Oct. 4, according to the Star-Ledger.

Well-known hedge fund managers appear to have largely avoided Lonegan's campaign, although smaller money managers like Penn Capital Management and Jacobs Levy Equity Management did contribute.

The support was bi-partisan: some of Booker's donors have supported Republicans.

Their reasons appear varied, but at least two specific policy points likely guided their cash to the charismatic former Rhodes Scholar: Booker's focus on education reform (Ackman, Robertson and Griffin are active on the issue) and support for Israel (the cause is important to Klarman and Steinhardt).

There was also general excitement around Booker's candidacy.

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"What attracted a lot of investors to Cory is that he thinks about problem-solving the way we think about returns—it's more practical than ideological," said Boykin Curry, managing director of $20 billion long-only investment firm Eagle Capital Management.

Curry and his father, Ravenel Curry III, each gave $500,000 to The Mobilization Project, a political action supercommittee that supported Booker.

"The investors who gave to Cory aren't the big banks on Wall Street, who are wrestling with regulations or trying to get special treatment. From a business perspective, there isn't really anything Washington can do for us or to us," Curry added. "We don't have lobbyists or anything—we just want the country to be better. I suppose from a pure self-interest, we would be better with Republicans like Lonegan."

Added Steinhardt: "I've known Cory for many years and he has great energy and a genuine idealism. As an individual, he is still growing, has made and will make some mistakes, but I am happy to bet on Cory Booker being a highly productive legislator."

One of Booker's biggest backers was Klarman, who has given to both Democrats and Republicans in recent years. In July, Klarman gave $100,000 to The Mobilization Project and in May hosted a luncheon fundraiser for the politician with chief risk officer Scott Nathan at Baupost's Boston offices.

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Klarman declined to comment via a spokeswoman. Roberston and other managers either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests. The Booker campaign also did not respond.

Added Curry of Eagle Capital: "It seems like a perfect time for someone like Cory to enter the Senate. There are a lot of Republican senators who will work with Cory because they know he's not trying to score tactical points off them. Hopefully he can bring a practical, long-term mindset to all this partisan bomb-throwing."

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.

Wall Street