PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Political newcomer Gerry Leonard has won the Republican nomination for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, 12 News projects.

Leonard was leading the second-place candidate, former Middletown Town Councilor Terri Flynn, as of 9 p.m., according to unofficial results released by the R.I. Board of Elections.

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 Republican nominee will go on to face Democrat Gabe Amo in the special election on Nov. 7. The GOP faces an uphill battle in the strongly Democratic-leaning district, which hasn’t elected a Republican since 1992.