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Campaign coffers flush in 2 LI state Senate races

Senator Brian Foley in Farmingville, New York. (Jan.

Senator Brian Foley in Farmingville, New York. (Jan. 7, 2009) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

In Long Island's two hottest State Senate races, incumbents Brian X. Foley and Kenneth LaValle carry cash advantages over their opponents, campaign finance filings show, but both men appear to face well-funded challenges.

Foley (D-Blue Point), whose first term in office was marked by his votes in favor of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax and the failed same-sex marriage bill, raised $242,013 in the six-month period that ended last week. He has $241,723 to spend.

His GOP opponent, attorney Lee Zeldin of Shirley, raised $266,085 and has $212,136 in the bank. Zeldin has raised significant sums in the past - he gathered $750,000 in a losing bid for Rep. Tim Bishop's congressional seat in 2008 - but has yet to score an electoral victory.

Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said Zeldin will have to raise more money than Foley to boost his name recognition. "This will be an expensive race," he said. "Foley's the incumbent and you never count an incumbent out. It's going to be bare knuckles."

LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), a 17-term incumbent, raised $107,334 and has $269,500. His opponent, attorney Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk, raised $147,165 and has $178,116 to spend.

The major parties' Senate campaign committees are likely to invest heavily in both races. The State Senate Republican Campaign Committee reported raising $1.4 million, bringing its cash on hand to $2.4 million. The State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee raised $1.5 million and has $3.5 million to spend this fall, according to the campaign finance reports.

"Both parties had better get involved," said Stanley Klein, a Suffolk GOP committeeman and political scientist at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. "The State Senate is up for grabs."

In other Long Island races, State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) loaned his campaign $60,000 earlier this month, just before the money would count in the latest campaign finance filing. His Democratic opponent, former Nassau Legis. David Mejias of North Massapequa, has $112,921 to spend, far less than Hannon's $207,714.

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