Gabe Amo, a former White House staff member who worked in the Biden and Obama administrations, on Tuesday became the first Black person to represent Rhode Island in the U.S. Congress, according to The Associated Press.
Mr. Amo, the son of Ghanaian and Liberian immigrants and a moderate Democrat, handily defeated his Republican opponent, Gerry Leonard, in the race to represent the First Congressional District. The victory had been expected in the heavily Democratic district and followed a crowded primary race in September.
“When I was 8 years old helping my mother study for the citizenship test, I never could’ve imagined that I would go with her to cast her ballot to vote for her son for the United States Congress,” he said, later adding, “I stand on the shoulders of so many who came before me to make this day possible.”
Mr. Amo won the seat vacated by former Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat who announced in February that he would resign to become president and C.E.O. of the Rhode Island Foundation.
In September, Mr. Amo won about one-third of the vote and defeated 10 other candidates who included a former state legislator backed by national progressive politicians and the state’s lieutenant governor.
In his campaign, Mr. Amo invoked his previous roles working for prominent Democrats, which included serving as deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Biden administration — which he left to run for Congress — and working for Gina Raimondo, the former governor of Rhode Island.
Mr. Amo, 35, told supporters on Tuesday in his hometown, Pawtucket, that once in office, he planned to focus on issues including retirement security, gun violence, abortion rights and climate change.
“This is just the beginning of a partnership between me and between you and the people throughout our communities, the people of the First Congressional District, who gave me this great honor tonight,” he said, “and I dedicate myself to building our community so that everybody can thrive.”