State Rep. Deb Ruggiero, who has represented Jamestown and Middletown in the state legislature since elected to the House in 2008, today announced she’s running for lieutenant governor.
Her announcement sets up a three-way race for the Democratic nomination. She’s the first candidate without ties to a specific gubernatorial candidate.
State Sen. Cynthia Mendes of East Providence, a first-term legislator is tied to gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown, a former Secretary of State; and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos was appointed to that position by Gov. Dan McKee. Matos, a former Providence City Councilperson has yet to officially announce that she’s running for re-election.
In Rhode Island, the governor and lieutenant governor run independently. However, Mendes and Brown announced they are running as a team, and McKee has said publicly that he believes that the governor and lieutenant governor should be elected as a team.
Ruggiero, 64 and owner of DR Communications, a marketing and advertising firm, says her campaign will focus on the economy, environment, education, and elders.
She’s familiar with challenging races. In 2008 she defeated Republican Bruce Long, who held the District 74 seat for 28 years. Two years later she won re-election in a three-way race, defeating Republican and Independent candidates.
Ruggiero currently chairs the House Innovation, Internet, and Technology Committee and is a member of the House Finance the House Special Legislation Committees.
Her biography on her state legislature page says she’s “championed legislation assisting the agricultural and seafood communities, improving home care patient rights, expanding renewable energy opportunities, and supporting economic development at Rhode Island’s ports. She co-chaired the Joint Port Facilities Study Commission, which developed several recommendations to help the state’s economy. She is the chairperson of a legislative commission that is studying possible reorganization of the Coastal Resources Management Council as a result of legislation she sponsored in 2021.”
According to the legislative site, she also helped enact several comprehensive renewable energy laws, co-chaired a task force to study “the nexus of mental health laws and gun rights following the Newtown, Conn., school shooting and sponsored the resulting law requiring Rhode Island to submit more data to the national database used to screen gun purchases.”
A life-long Rhode Islander, she’s has a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in Public Administration/Senior Leadership from Clark University.
According to the Board of Elections campaign finance reports, Ruggiero had a campaign fund balance of $55,763 on Dec. 31, 2021. Mendes’ fund balance was reported at $53,486, and Matos fund balance was reported at $309,000. This year’s first quarter ended March 31. Candidates do not have to report the first quarter reports until the end of April.