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Jan 20, 2010 12:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Democrat Regina Calcaterra launches campaign for State Senate

Jan 20, 2010 12:04 PM

In the race for New York State Senate, a young corporate fraud attorney from the North Fork is gearing up to challenge Republican incumbent Kenneth P. LaValle’s 34-year hold on the eastern Long Island seat.

While Suffolk County Democrats will not officially nominate a candidate until May, it appears likely that 43-year-old Regina Calcaterra, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based law firm Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, will face Mr. LaValle on Election Day in November.

Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Schaffer said this week that Ms. Calcaterra, who hails from the hamlet of New Suffolk in the Town of Southold, is the only potential candidate that has emerged from his party so far.

“I expect her to be our nominee,” Mr. Schaffer said.

About 150 supporters converged on the American Legion Hall in Eastport on the afternoon of Saturday, January 16, to officially kick off Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign to represent New York State’s 1st Senatorial District, which spans the five East End towns and eastern Brookhaven Town.

At the event, local Democratic leaders sought to paint the first-time candidate as a reformer who will work to overhaul the state capital.

“She is going to bring her career of fighting to Albany,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko in a speech introducing Ms. Calcaterra.

Addressing the packed hall, Ms. Calcaterra talked about her hardscrabble upbringing in homeless shelters and foster homes throughout Suffolk County, as well as her past six years of work as a litigator in corporate fraud cases.

“I fight Goliath and I win again and again and again,” she said, prompting cheers and applause from the crowd.

In her run for State Senate, Ms. Calcaterra appears to be drawing on public dissatisfaction with Albany’s current power-holders. Seventy-two percent of state voters disapprove of the job the New York State Legislature is doing, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University that was released on December 16.

In her speech, Ms. Calcaterra attempted to characterize Mr. LaValle, 70, of Port Jefferson, as part of the status quo in cash-strapped Albany.

“Rather than fighting the bureaucracy, he’s helped build it to the point that it’s completely out of control,” she said.

Joanne Scalia, a spokeswoman for Mr. LaValle, said that the incumbent, who was first elected in 1976, will focus on his long history of service in the upcoming race.

“Our strategy remains the same,” Ms. Scalia said. “He just runs on his record.”

“He believes his opponent has no connection to the district,” she added.

Mr. LaValle was last elected to a two-year term in 2008, at which point he ran unopposed. Ms. Calcaterra said she was galvanized to run after more than 80,000 people registered blank votes in that election, rather than vote for Mr. LaValle. About 81,000 people cast votes for Mr. LaValle that day.

Local Democratic politicians attended Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign kickoff on Saturday, including former Southampton Town Supervisor Mardythe DiPirro and Bridget Fleming, the Democratic candidate for the Southampton Town Board in a special election set for March 9.

“I do see Regina as bringing a lot of energy to the process, and I’m looking forward to learning more about her,” Ms. Fleming said. “She brings energy and professionalism and integrity.”

Mr. Schaffer said that Ms. Calcaterra originally approached him last March about challenging Mr. LaValle this year. Since then, her campaign has raised $118,820, according to a financial disclosure report she filed with the New York State Board of Elections on Friday, January 15.

Records on the New York State Board of Elections website show that Mr. LaValle has raised $90,926 since the 2008 election. That figure does not include any additional money that could be remaining in his campaign fund after his last election win.

Ms. Calcaterra said she will be campaigning door-to-door in the coming weeks. The exact date of the Democratic nominating convention in May has yet to be set, but if Ms. Calcaterra secures the nomination she will then have to obtain 1,000 signatures from registered Democrats in the district in order to appear on the ballot in November, according to New York State Election Law.

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Hilarious to see Southampton Town Board candidate Bridget Fleming who has no community record in her race endorsing another Dem candidate with no community record either.Both are media creations. This is one of the few times it really is a good idea to maintain the "status quo."
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Jan 20, 10 7:49 PM
Ahem, well, as I read this, rather than Ms. Calcaterra being a crusading D.A. fighting corporate fraud, she is a defense attorney protecting corporations from criminal charges of fraud. Perhaps the Dems. could clarify this point.

Additionally, the article states that she is an attorney "with [a] Philadelphia-based law firm. . ." Are we to infer that she is the Southold branch of said law firm, (the town from which she "hails")? Does she reside most of the time at her Southold address ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 20, 10 9:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps you are not reading carefully enough - or, perhaps, you are reading what you want to read.

Regina spent her youth in and out of the Suffolk County foster care system with her four siblings. When not in foster care, Regina and her siblings experienced evictions, homelessness and homeless shelters. She remained in her final foster home in Centereach until she began college at age seventeen. She graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz four years later.

As ...more
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 12:02 PM
To peoplefirst:

I would appreciate it if you would provide a citation.

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 21, 10 2:02 PM
Her bio is readily available at her website. Should anyone wish to refute the info provided there, then they should provide evidence to the contrary. http://www.regina-calcaterra.com/Regina/displaySection.cfm?currentSection=About%20Regina
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 3:07 PM
To peoplefirst:

I have no contrary evidence of Ms. Calcaterra's character since I never heard of her before today. However, your post was a cut-and-paste from her own campaign website. As such, you should have identified the source.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 21, 10 4:29 PM
Highhatsize, give me a break, huh? Besides, a good reporter never reveals his source. Not to mention you could have googled some info about her yourself before posting your not-so-veiled insinuation that she was not what she appears.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 5:15 PM
You are right about the insinuation. I found the article to be p.r. puffery and was annoyed that the Press would guilelessly publish it.

Thanks for the citation. There was no subtext to the request. I simply wanted to see where you were getting your information. Upon logging onto the site, I realized, as I had suspected when reading your initial post, that you had transposed text from there verbatim. Quoting the text and attributing it to the source is s.o.p. when so doing.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 21, 10 8:07 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 21, 10 9:18 PM

You need help highat.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 21, 10 10:56 PM
Speaking purely politically, Ken LaValle is going to have to actually campaign this time around. I am not endorsing Calceterra. I do not agree with many of her ideological views. I am merely stating political reality.

This year is not going to be good for heavily embedded "insider" incumbents regardless of political and idealogical. The public is tired of the old guard. I beg to differ with Fred Thiele that no one knows Calceterra. I will guarantee you that by the time election day ...more
By Integrity Party Guy (26), Riverhead on Jan 24, 10 11:53 AM
I agree, there will be a race for this seat this year. My comment was dircted to highhat who made some incredible accusations and comments about Ms Calceterra.
Even though I wil be supporting Sen LaValle, highhats comments were completly uncalled for.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 24, 10 1:27 PM
I made no accusations about Ms. Calcaterra. In my earlier post, I indicated that I had never heard of her. My latter post, (the one that the moderator removed), presented some facts that I had learned about her while googling her name in the previous half-hour. I thought that the facts were unique and interesting, nothing more, and so I posted them. I also posted a query in light of what I had read. No doubt, it was the latter question that caused my censoring.

To be as clear as possible ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 24, 10 9:53 PM

You made allegations of her sexuality, questioned her motives for a court action invovling a private matter, and in general ended up claiming that where there is smoke there is fire.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jan 26, 10 9:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
Rubbish. Your preconceptions have distorted your perception.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 26, 10 5:39 PM