PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democrat Gabe Amo had a modest financial advantage over his Republican opponent Gerry Leonard as the special election for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District enters its final weeks, new Federal Election Commission filings show.
The reports show Amo’s campaign had $176,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, while Leonard had $157,000. Amo, a former staffer to President Biden and Gov. Gina Raimondo, is favored in the heavily Democratic district against Leonard, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel. Both are first-time candidates.
Leonard’s current cash stockpile is lower than the roughly $200,000 total he’d suggested he would report during an interview Oct. 6 on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.
The Nov. 7 special election has drawn limited attention so far, in part because neither candidate had begun advertising on television as of Sunday night. Amo has also declined Leonard’s call for a dozen debates, instead agreeing to just two televised encounters during the final week of the campaign, including Nov. 3 on WPRI 12.
On Monday morning, Amo’s campaign announced he is going back on the air with a new TV ad starting Tuesday, with plans to spend over $100,000 airing commercials through Nov. 7.
“Our campaign is taking nothing for granted, and we are committed to getting voters out to the polls on or before Nov. 7,” Amo said in a statement. “I would encourage every voter in the 1st District to go to vote.ri.gov and make a plan to vote today.”
A short time later, Leonard’s campaign announced he is also going on the air with his first TV spot, a humorous spot that plays on his unusual first name. His spokesperson said Leonard plans to spend over $100,000 on advertising over the next three weeks.
“Rhode Island families deserve a representative who puts principles over politics,” Leonard said in a statement. “We are continuing to build momentum ahead of Election Day and look forward to delivering our message and winning on Nov. 7.”
No public polling has been released in the special election so far.
Amo raised $281,000 and Leonard raised $69,000 during the period of Aug. 17 to Sept. 30 covered by the new filings. Two-thirds of Amo’s contributions came after he won the Sept. 5 primary.
Taking a longer view, Amo has raised nearly $900,000 since entering the race, while Leonard has collected a little under $200,000, which includes a $50,000 personal loan the Republican made to his campaign. Amo spent the majority of his money already in his successful bid to win the primary.
Amo reported spending $128,000 on TV advertising, by far his biggest expense, during the six-week period covered by the report. Leonard’s biggest expense over the same time span, apart from staff salaries, was about $6,000 for lawn signs.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Threads, Twitter and Facebook.