Democrat candidate Gabe Amo, a former aide for Gov. Raimondo and President Biden made Rhode Island history on Wednesday, winning a special election for the state’s 1st congressional district. Defeating Republican candidate Gerry Leonard, Amo is set to become the state’s first-ever Black representative in Congress.
Amo was heavily favored to win the election, which covered the deep-blue congressional district of both Bristol and Newport County as well as much of Providence County. During the crowded primary for former Rep. David Cicilline’s seat, Amo positioned himself as a moderate Democrat willing to utilize his experience working with Raimondo and Biden in Washington. He emerged victorious over challengers such as former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, who was backed by progressive U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, whose campaign weathered through endorsement and signature scandals.
“The journey of so many Rhode Islanders and their families is one of grit, hard work, determination and resilience,” Amo said during his victory speech, reflecting that “I stand on the shoulders of so many who came before me to make this day possible.”
Amo’s victory is not the only win Democrats notched during the off-year election day in the United States. Despite losses for the Mississippi and Louisiana governorships, both deep red seats, Democrats nationwide etched a clean slate of successes.
In Ohio, a ballot measure to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution as well as a ballot measure to legalize the use of recreational marijuana both emerged successful, garnering 56.6% and 57% support respectively. Just south of Ohio, Democrat Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear won reelection in a close race against his Republican competitor, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Due to this win, Beshear will continue his streak as one of the only Democrat statewide officials in Kentucky, along with Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.
In Virginia, legislative races that were largely seen as a referendum on the performance of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin tilted towards the Democrat Party, flipping the state house and giving them full control of the legislature. Youngkin expressed disappointment in the aftermath but pledged to work with the Democrat majority legislature, stating “I think this is what Virginians expect. I think they know that in a state that is so purple, that we do debate. We do argue. But they expect us to find common ground on these most important topics and to press forward.”
Amo is set to be sworn in as Rhode Island’s first Black congressman today, Nov. 13, at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, he will give brief remarks.