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1st S.D.: Calcaterra v. LaValle marks a contrast in careers, personal styles

If nothing else, the campaign in Suffolk's 1st Senate District poses a clear contrast in personal styles.

Regina Calcaterra, 43, of New Suffolk, the likely Democratic challenger, is hailed by her supporters as a sharp, energetic fighter. Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), 71, is hailed by his supporters as statesmanlike and a community unifier.

Calcaterra has never held elected office and emphasizes her work as a corporate fraud lawyer. LaValle was first elected to the Senate in 1976 and stresses his role in education issues.

Just a glance at their campaigns' disclosure reports reflects their differing tracks and circles.

She's received $26,500 from the Philadelphia-based law firm Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, where she's been a partner since 2004, plus $29,500 from the firm's name partners. She and the firm represented the state's pension system in a well-known lawsuit against WorldCom, along with the New York firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, and partner Sean Coffey - now running for attorney general - who's contributed $1,750 to Calcaterra.

Earlier, Calcaterra was a registered lobbyist for a New York City firm, which included C.W. Post professor Carl Figliola, and she served deputy general counsel for the city's biggest pension system, NYCERS. Between 1994 and 1998, she served as director of legislative affairs for then New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Over the years, LaValle, who chaired the higher-education committee under the Senate's former GOP majority, received thousands of dollars from a wide swath of businesses, professional groups and unions.

So far this year, among his biggest individual contributors were James Simons, the mathematician and philanthropist and ex-chairman of the Stony Brook Foundation, and Laura Anglin, former state budget director, who now heads the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

Maverick Democrat Greg Fischer, 53, of Calverton, has been ruled off the primary ballot for invalid petitions and is attempting in court to get reinstated. He and others have also sought to challenge Calcaterra's residency based on a voter registration card filed a few years ago in Pennsylvania and a 2007 application for a New York driver's license. But her spokesmen told reporters she bought a house in New Hope, Pa., because of its proximity to New York and Philadelphia, while working on the WorldCom case, and that was not her permanent residence.

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