Pawtucket native Gabe Amo, a son of African immigrants who translated his early interest in politics into a job at the White House, announced Tuesday that he’s joining the crowded Democratic field in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District.

Amo, 35, has been considered a likely candidate since U.S. Rep. David Cicilline announced in February that he would step down to become president/CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

“My story is a Rhode Island story,” Amo, the 14th Democrat to enter the CD1 race, said in an announcement video. “One of a close-knit community that helped me go from a poor kid in Pawtucket to working at the highest levels of government.”

He stepped down last week from his job as a special assistant to President Biden and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House. Amo previously worked for President Obama and former RI Gov. Gina Raimondo.

He said his experience has given him an understanding of how government works, and helped him to identify with struggling Rhode Islanders.

“I’ve seen first-hand what’s at stake,” Amo said. “Republicans in Congress want to cut Social Security and Medicare, ban abortion nationally, and they’re doing nothing to combat senseless gun violence and climate change or to lower costs.”

Amo’s parents came to Rhode Island from Ghana and Liberia. He said that, when he was eight years old, he helped his mother study for the citizenship test, an experience “that brought home the American promise – the power and potential of democracy.”

As a student at Moses Brown, Amo read books about presidents, and he took time off from Wheaton College to work for the state Democratic Party during the 2006 campaign season – the year when Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse beat then-Republican U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

"It isn't glorious," Amo told The Providence Journal at the time. "I'm not here to be Charlie in The West Wing. I try to think of the big picture. Every time I put up another chair, maybe it's one more vote for the Democratic Party."’

He moved up quickly to become the state Democratic Party’s director of organizing and later, director of public engagement for Raimondo.

A group of Raimondo alums expressed support for Amo’s campaign on Twitter, suggesting his ability to tap into the former governor’s fundraising network.

Amo is the second Democrat to enter the race this week. Jamestown businessman Don Carlson, a renewable energy investor, announced his campaign on Sunday in Middletown.

The other Democrats in the race are House Finance Chairman Marvin Abney, former Commerce staffer Nick Auteillo, newcomer Mickeda Barners, former Secretary of State candidate Stephanie Beaute, state Rep. Nathan Biah of Providence, state Sen. Sandra Cano of Pawtucket, state Rep. Stephen Casey of Woonsocket, Ward 1 Providence City Councilor John Goncalves, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, state Sen. Ana Quezada of Providence, former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, and former Republican Allen Waters.

It’s unclear if more Democrats will enter the race.

The Democratic primary is Sept. 5.

Ian Donnis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his weekly RI politics and media newsletter.