R.I. elections board certifies CD1 results

By: - November 16, 2023 6:04 pm

U.S. Rep. Gabe Amo delivers his first floor speech at the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, Nov. 13 2023. (C-Span)

He’s taken the oath of offices, set up his new Capitol Hill digs and already cast a vote on the stopgap spending bill.

Now, Gabe Amo can officially say he won the special election for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, with the state elections board voting on Thursday to certify the results from the Nov. 6 election.

Amo, a Democrat, was sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 13 under an obscure clause of House rules that lets a newly elected member take office even before results are certified, subject to receipt of a statement from another House representative or state official attesting that the outcome of the race is not in question.

The Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office supplied that statement.

Amo arrived in D.C. just in time to vote in favor of a stopgap spending bill aimed at avoiding a partial government shutdown, ahead of a Friday deadline. He has also opened his offices in Washington and at 1070 Main St. Pawtucket for constituent services. Amo has hired Kate Michaud, Warren town manager, to be his new district director. Amo’s new chief of staff is Dylan Sodaro, who was previously legislative director for Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.)

While Amo was thrust into a whirlwind first week on Capitol Hill, the state elections board still needed to certify the results of the race that gave him the seat. The certification, approved by a unanimous vote on Thursday, is largely considered a performative decision, given Amo’s decisive victory over Republican Gerry Leonard Jr., well above the threshold that allows for a recount. 

Amo bested Leonard by more than 20,000 votes, or a 30-percentage point margin, according to final results, which were nearly identical to the preliminary count released on the night of the election. Leonard captured 35% of the vote, trailing Amo by more than 20,000 votes. Over 19,000 voters made their picks ahead of Election Day, casting ballots early, in-person or by mail, according to final results.

The 66,866 ballots cast in the special congressional election comprises just under 20% of the 341,387 registered voters in the district, according to certified results. 

The elections board also certified results from other elections, including the State Senate District 1 race and ballot questions across nine municipalities. 

That included a $190 million school bond measure in Middletown, despite a recount request from a group of residents known as the Middletown Concerned Neighbors. The elections board ultimately rejected the recount request because the 3.1% margin with which the bond measure passed, though narrow, was too large to allow for a recount under state law.

Board Chairwoman Diane Mederos, along with members Marcela Betancur and Michael Connors, did not attend the meeting.


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Nancy Lavin
Nancy Lavin

Nancy Lavin is senior reporter covering state politics, energy and environmental issues for the Rhode Island Current.