PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Former White House staffer Gabe Amo has won the Democratic nomination for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, 12 News projects.
Amo was leading former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg as of 10 p.m., according to unofficial results released by the R.I. Board of Elections. State Sen. Sandra Cano and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos were in third and fourth place, respectively.
Amo’s father was literally jumping for joy after learning the outcome. Along with his family, friends and supporters, Amo’s watch party had appearances from Congressman Seth Magaziner, Secretary of State Gregg Amore and even Cano by the end of the night.
A Pawtucket native, Amo worked in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs under the Obama and Biden administrations. He was a liaison to governors and other elected officials nationwide.
If he wins in November, he’d become the first person of color elected to Congress in Rhode Island.
“I said from Day 1 that Rhode Islanders deserve someone who can be effective,” Amo said. “I’m going to use all of the experience I’ve built in Washington and working here in Rhode Island to connect to the key priorities of the people living in the first district.”
“I am overwhelmed, but I am so energized,” he added. “We have so much work to do for Rhode Islanders.”
Watch: Amo victory speech (Story continues below.)
The off-year special election to fill the 1st District seat was called after veteran Democrat David Cicilline announced in February he would resign to become CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. The relatively rare U.S. House vacancy drew a crowded field of candidates, with 11 Democrats still actively seeking the nomination as voters went to the polls on Tuesday.
Matos started out as the race’s frontrunner, but her campaign faltered in mid-July due to a scandal over fraudulent signatures on her nomination papers. Regunberg became the favorite in August thanks to support from major progressives, while Amo gained strength in the final stretch and Cano emphasized a robust get-out-the-vote operation.
“There were so many good people on the ballot, and it is a credit and testament to the bench of dedicated elected officials and citizens and I need every single one of them,” Amo said. “I need everybody’s help, because we need to win in November.”
Amo will go on to face Republican Gerry Leonard in the special election on Nov. 7. Democrats are strongly favored in the 1st District, which hasn’t elected a Republican since 1992.
Regunberg called Amo to congratulate him before giving his concession speech. He told his supporters that he plans to work with Amo to help him get to Congress.
Cano also offered her support to Amo after making her way from her watch party to his.
Matos told 12 News she has no regrets, despite coming in fourth.