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Gabe Amo of Ghanaian-Liberian heritage set to become Rhode Island’s first black Congressman?

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Gabe Amo of Ghanaian-Liberian heritage set to become Rhode Island's first black Congressman?

Former White House aide Gabe Amo could become the first person of color to represent Rhode Island in Congress after his win Tuesday in the crowded Democratic primary for the state’s 1st Congressional District special election sent him on to the general election in the heavily Democratic state.

Amo, who grew up in Pawtucket the son of Ghanaian and Liberian immigrants, hopes to succeed former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who stepped down earlier this summer to become the president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

“This primary election shows that Rhode Islanders believe in a state where one of their sons, the son of two West African immigrants from Ghana and Liberia, could receive the love and investment of a community and go from serving the president of the United States … to being the Democratic nominee for Congress for the 1st Congressional District,” Amo told cheering supporters.

 

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If elected, Amo said he would address “some of the critical needs of this country,” whether it be preventing gun violence, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening Social Security or protecting reproductive freedom.

 

Amo will square off against Gerry Leonard, a U.S. Marine veteran and political newcomer who defeated fellow Republican candidate Terri Flynn, a former town council member, to win the GOP primary Tuesday.

“We’re excited here,” Leonard told The Associated Press after winning.

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“I’m looking forward with great anticipation of getting out and continuing to move around District 1 and meet Rhode Islanders. Tell them my message. Tell them my story and tell them what I intend to do for the state,” he said. “We need to start sending leaders to Washington, D.C. that put principles before politics and service before self. That message will resonate.”

Leonard faces a significant challenge in the general election in a state that has traditionally favored Democratic candidates.

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, who had hoped to become the first Latina elected to Congress from the state, congratulated Amo on his primary win.

“While I was hoping for a different outcome, tonight’s results show that Rhode Islanders are ready for more diverse representation in Congress for the first time. We can all celebrate and take pride in this historic milestone for our state,” she said in a statement.

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During the campaign, Amo said he would fight to ban assault-style weapons, support funding for research into gun violence prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and implement universal background checks.

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