No. 3 Story of the Year: Regina Calcaterra, the candidate who wasn’t


In the summer of 2009 corporate attorney Regina Calcaterra, a political unknown who had never before run for public office, announced her intentions to carry the Democratic banner in challenging veteran Republican State Senator Kenneth LaValle, an Albany institution with 33 years under his belt.

Widely regarded as an intelligent and aggressive alternative to the docile foes Mr. LaValle routinely crushed in the polls, Ms. Calcaterra represented her party’s first serious threat to the senator. With state Democrats hoping to hold on to their 32-30 Senate majority gained only two years earlier, and the GOP fighting to get back into power, the LaValle-Calcaterra race was one of a handful closely watched by both sides.

But when Election Day came, Mr. LaValle cruised to yet another easy victory, only Ms. Calcaterra wasn’t his opponent.
The New Suffolk resident dropped her candidacy in August after the second of two state courts ruled that she’s ineligible to run. The issue, first raised by a Democratic opponent and later carried by the GOP, is her state residency status.

As a partner in a Philadelphia law firm, Ms. Calcaterra owned a home and was registered to vote in Pennsylvania. In an income tax filing she also listed herself as a non-resident of New York. A State Supreme Court ruling later upheld on appeal found that Ms. Calcaterra was ineligible to run because she had not lived in the state for five consecutive years prior to the election.

In announcing the end of her candidacy, Ms. Calcaterra blasted an “underhanded, desperate legal challenge” brought by the LaValle camp. Mr. LaValle said the residency issue was first raised by Calverton Democrat Greg Fischer, who tried unsuccessfully to force Ms. Calcaterra into a party primary.

The Democrats then switched the nomination to attorney Jennifer Maertz, vice chair of the Brookhaven Democratic Party and a Calcaterra campaign staffer.

Mr. LaValle held on to his seat, defeating Ms. Maertz by close to a 2 to 1 margin.