A spokesman for Regina Calcaterra’s campaign for the Democratic nomination to challenge Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the state Senate race this fall dismissed accusations this week that the candidate hasn’t been a New York state resident long enough to serve in the Legislature.
The accusations are based on documents showing Ms. Calcaterra owned a house in New Hope, Pa., appeared to have been registered to vote there and had a Pennsylvania driver’s license as of late as 2007.
Meanwhile, the Democrat who first raised the issue and sought to wrest the nomination away for himself through a party primary is, unless a court rules otherwise, out of the running. The Suffolk Board of Elections dismissed Calverton resident Gregory Fisher’s nominating petitons, ruling that they were submitted a day late.
Calcaterra campaign spokesman Andrew Moesel on Tuesday said that Ms. Calcaterra, a lawyer who grew up in Coram and lists New Suffolk as her residence, had bought the New Hope house because it was close to both New York and Philadelphia, where she was handling a lawsuit that required her to frequent both cities.
He said she had registered to drive there only out of necessity while she worked on the case and never considered it her permanent residence. She owned the New Hope house for only about a year and always maintained her permanent residence in New York state, he insisted.
“This is Republicans playing the same old political game that is so typical of the corruption culture of Albany,” Mr. Moesel said. “Ken LaValle and all opponents of reform are scared to death they will have to face an honest and motivated candidate this fall.”
Suffolk County Board of Election officials are expected to rule this week on whether formal objections challenging Ms. Calcaterra’s residency should be decided by the court system.
Regarding Mr. Fischer’s own petitions, the package received by the BOE was postmarked July 16 but the deadline was July 15, said Republican Commissioner Cathy Geier. The deadline for filing a court challenge to that decision passes today, Thursday.
Mr. Fischer wrote the board recently, claiming Ms. Calcaterra did not meet the five-year continuous residency requirement for state legislative candidates. He submitted to the BOE a copy of an April 2007 New York state voter registration application from Ms. Calcaterra, giving an address in New Hope, Pa. He also supplied a 2007 Pennsylvania driver’s license record.
Mr. Fischer sought the Democratic nomination to run against Mr. LaValle in 2008, but the party opted not to run a candidate that year. Mr. LaValle, first elected in 1976, garnered 81,062 votes that year.
According to Mr. Moesel, Republican and Independent party members have filed formal objections with the BOE, based on Mr. Fischer’s evidence. Filing the objections requires the board to make a decision on the matter.
Mr. LaValle declined to comment through a spokesperson.
Brookhaven Republican chairman Jesse Garcia scoffed at Mr. Moesel’s explanation. He saidthe real issue was that Ms. Calcaterra did not care about following the state constitution.
“It is clear that she has just become another cog in the Democratic dysfunction in Albany that gave us the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax, ripped school aid away from us and took away our STAR rebate checks,” Mr. Garcia said.