Republican Who Spoke Out Against Trump Wins GOP Primary


Gerry Leonard, a Republican who has spoken out against former President Donald Trump in the past, has won the GOP primary for Rhode Island’s special election for the 1st Congressional District.

Leonard, a Marine veteran and political newcomer, defeated fellow Republican Terri Flynn, a former town council member, to win the primary by more than 50 percentage points on Tuesday. He is the Rhode Island Republican Party’s endorsed candidate.

The special election is being held after former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline stepped down in the summer to lead the Rhode Island Foundation.

Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower on September 4, 2023, in New York City. A Republican who has spoken out against the former president in the past has won a GOP primary in New England.
James Devaney/GC Images

Leonard will face off against Democrat Gabe Amo, a former White House aide, in the November 7 election—a significant challenge in a state that has traditionally favored Democratic candidates.

If Leonard triumphs, he will become the first Republican to represent the 1st Congressional District since former Rep. Ron Machtley, who served from 1989 until 1995.

Leonard told The Associated Press after winning that he is looking forward to continuing to meet Rhode Islanders and tell them his 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 made similar remarks in a recent interview where he criticized Trump.

“I believe there’s nobody that’s above the law in the United States,” Leonard told NBC 10 in early August, when asked about Trump—the question came soon after the former president had been indicted for a third time. However, he noted that Trump is afforded the right to due process.

Asked if he supports Trump as he runs to regain the White House, Leonard said that he thinks “there’s plenty of good candidates, great candidates, on the Republican side.”

The former president was indicted for a fourth time later in August, in a case focusing on his efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat in Georgia.

He is facing a total of 91 charges across four federal and state felony indictments in cases connected to attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, his handling of classified documents and his alleged role in hush-money payments. He has denied all the charges against him.

Leonard has said he believes that Americans know how to live their lives better than government bureaucrats and professional politicians do.

“That is why he has dedicated his life to serving our country, protecting our inalienable rights, and defending our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” his campaign website says.

It also says he “does not accept the status quo where career politicians place self and party before the constituents who elected them. And he is a strong proponent of term limits.”

Newsweek has contacted Leonard for further comment via email.


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