North Fork woman launches senate campaign
Regina Calcaterra says people are tired of Albany 'shenanigans'
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"She fights Sean Hannity," Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko said as he introduced the candidate before 150 of her supporters at her campaign kickoff Saturday at the Eastport American Legion Hall. "She is going to bring her career of fighting to Albany."
Ms. Calcaterra, a lawyer whose practice focuses on corporate malfeasance, wants to run on the Democratic line for the first district seat held by state Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), whose district covers northern Brookhaven and the North Fork. She admits it will be a challenge to unseat a 34-year incumbent, according to an announcement she distributed last week, but adds that her campaign is off to a good start. She says she's raised nearly $120,000 so far.
"I know you're fed up with the shenanigans in Albany," she said to the cheering crowd in Eastport.
Although she's not officially on the ballot yet, Suffolk County Democratic Committee chairman Richard Schaffer said he expects Ms. Calcaterra to receive the party's nomination at its convention in May. "I've had no one [else] express an interest," he said.
"There is major dysfunction in Albany and it's about time we gave someone else a chance," he said.
Brookhaven Town GOP Committee chairman Jesse Garcia said it was precisely Senator LaValle's record that convinces voters to send him back to Albany again and again every two years.
Mr. Garcia said that Ms. Calcaterra is allied with the "party of dysfunction," which he said is responsible for much of the trouble in Albany, including tax hikes and cuts to public school funding.
"I never bet against Ken LaValle," Mr. Garcia said, "and no one else should either."
Ms. Calcaterra said her reason for taking on the entrenched incumbent is that she believes voters deserve a choice.
Casting her vote in the November 2008 election, Ms. Calcaterra noticed that there were no women Democrats on any ballot line in her district. She also noticed a blank space on the Democratic line for Sen. LaValle's seat.
Upset with the lack of options, Ms. Calcaterra, like 80,000 of 161,000 voters in New York State's First Senatorial District, abstained from voting for a state senator. She decided to contact the Suffolk County Democratic Committee to see if her name could fill that empty slot in 2010.
"Democracy can only work when voters have a choice," she said before the crowd in Eastport.
Ms. Calcaterra's campaign is already attracting the attention of Democratic officials from around the state. New York State Senate deputy majority leader Jeffrey Klein, whose district spans the Bronx and Westchester County, traveled to Eastport on Saturday to wish her good luck.
"She's overcome great obstacles in her life," Mr. Klein said. "She's the kind of person we need in Albany."
One of five children, Ms. Calcaterra, 43, grew up in foster homes and homeless shelters on Long Island. She is single.
She attended SUNY/New Paltz and studied law at Seton Hall University. She was part of the legal team that successfully sued WorldCom to recover billions of dollars in pension funds, she said. She currently is a partner with the New York office of Barrack, Rodos and Bacine and is a former legislative director to the New York City comptroller.
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