In 2008, Ruggiero challenged 28-year incumbent Bruce J. Long (R–Middletown) for the 74th district seat. Long, a Republican, was the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives and was seeking his fifteenth term. In the election held on November 4, 2008, Ruggiero defeated Long by 54% to 46%, carrying each of the district's six precincts. She was re-elected in 2010, winning 53% in a three-way race. Her Republican and Independent opponents took 31% and 16% of the vote respectively.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Ruggiero went to high school in Lincoln, Rhode Island before attending Boston College, graduating magna cum laude with a double major in English and Communications. She has spent her career in the media, working first for CBS radio in Boston, then for FOX TV and WPRI-TV for 8 years. Since 2000, she has served as Director of Community and Business Development at Citadel Radio, the owners of WPRO and WPRO-FM. Since 1992, she has also taught a class in Broadcast Advertising at Providence College.
A supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Ruggiero attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver as an alternate.
Ruggiero is lesbian; her partner of 22 and a half years, Joyce Ioanes, died of cancer in 2007. She is one of four openly LGBT members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, alongside House Speaker Gordon D. Fox (D–Providence), Rep. Frank Ferri (D–Warwick) and Sen. Donna Nesselbush (D–Pawtucket).
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