Former White House official Gabe Amo emerged victorious in a crowded Democratic primary, securing his path to represent Rhode Island’s deep blue first congressional district. The Associated Press projected Amo’s victory after he overcame competition from 10 other Democratic contenders in the primary, positioning him as the likely successor to former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who resigned earlier this year to lead a prominent nonprofit organization.
With the general election scheduled for November, Amo faces off against GOP primary winner Gerry Leonard as he seeks to maintain the district’s staunch Democratic tradition. The first congressional district overwhelmingly supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Political experts contend the victory underscores the continued strength of Biden’s brand within the Democratic Party’s rank and file.
Addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters during his victory speech, Amo, whose father and mother immigrated to Rhode Island from Ghana and Liberia, respectively, expressed his gratitude for the trust and support of Rhode Islanders. “This election, this primary election, showed 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 the investment of a community and go from serving the president of the United States a briefing in the Oval Office to being the Democratic nominee from the first congressional district,” he remarked.
Amo further emphasized his unique background and tenure working in the White House under Biden and Barack Obama. He created a television advertisement that emphasized his strong connection with the two Democratic leaders. Through the ad, he presented himself as the candidate who had earned the trust of both presidents, showcasing captivating visuals of himself in the prestigious surroundings of the Oval Office. Notably, neither Obama nor Biden formally endorsed any candidate in the race.
Amo’s campaign also benefited from the support of former Biden White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who played a pivotal role in his bid for the congressional seat. Amo’s role as deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs was central to his campaign narrative. He described himself as “Biden’s principal liaison to mayors and local elected officials.” His messaging closely mirrored that of President Biden, with campaign ads emphasizing his experience and invoking the events of January 6th and the presidency of Donald Trump to underscore the importance of his candidacy.
Some political watchers claimed that Amo’s victory in the Democratic primary underscored the enduring appeal of Biden’s vision within the party and his ability to rally support from diverse constituents in Rhode Island’s first congressional district. In securing victory, Amo also defeated Aaron Regunberg, a former state representative who had the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).