Democrat Gabe Amo has defeated Republican Gerry Leonard to win Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat

BySTEVE LEBLANC Associated Press

Democrat Gabe Amo defeated Republican Gerry Leonard to win Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat Tuesday, becoming the state’s first Black candidate elected to Congress.

Amo, the son of Ghanaian and Liberian immigrants who once worked as a White House aide, succeeds former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who stepped down this summer to become president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

Moments after the race was called, Amo said he was grateful to be able to serve the district and state he loves.

“Undoubtedly, I’m humbled by the real momentous opportunity to serve as the first person of color,” Amo told The Associated Press before walking out to address his supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history.”

Amo, 35, said he sees himself as part of a long line of advocates who came before him, whether they were people of color or those fighting for the rights of woman or the working class.

“For Rhode Island, it’s been interesting to have an immigrant story that everyone can relate to,” he said.

Amo said one of his top priorities on arriving in Washington will be to help ensure that the federal government begins to function again.

He said he will also work to fight gun violence and protect Social Security and Medicare.

“I’m going to be a voice for making sure we can restore confidence and trust despite the Republican Party that is rife with chaos,” he said.

Amo, who grew up in Pawtucket, emerged victorious from a crowded Democratic field in the September primary, claiming more than 32% of the vote.

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