Vegas Mayor Goodman backs wife in city election

AP News
Posted: Apr 05, 2011 10:38 AM
Vegas Mayor Goodman backs wife in city election

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman calls himself the happiest mayor in the world, but he isn't too happy that term limits prevented him from running for a fourth term.

To protect his legacy, Goodman is backing his wife in Tuesday's primary election to replace him.

"She is going to be able to acquire institutional knowledge overnight," Oscar Goodman said of the mother of his four children.

Carolyn Goodman is the front-runner in an 18-candidate field that includes wealthy French businessman Victor Chaltiel and a handful of city and county elected officials, including Clark County Commissioners Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani and City Councilman Steve Ross.

Carolyn Goodman would need more than 50 percent of the vote to become mayor Tuesday. Otherwise, the top two candidates will face off June 7.

Nearly 20,000 voters, or 9 percent of the electorate, showed up for early voting. Larry Lomax, Clark County's registrar of voters, said he expects roughly 15,000 more Las Vegas voters to cast ballots Tuesday.

Oscar Goodman was a mob lawyer before he became Las Vegas mayor in 1999, and he was easily re-elected twice. He is an unapologetic connoisseur of gin martinis and outlandish policies. During his 12 years in office, he advocated for cutting off the thumbs of graffiti vandals, told schoolchildren he would bring a bottle of gin to a deserted island and defended legalized prostitution.

The revitalization of downtown Las Vegas has been a pet project for the mayor, and his would-be successors have all promised to carry out that charge.

Carolyn Goodman stands out on the ballot because of her last name. But she is also a Las Vegas player in her own right. She is the founder of a Las Vegas private school and has pledged to carry on her husband's policies.

"I have lived, ate and breathed this for 12 years side by side with him," she told The Associated Press last week. "If the voters don't want me or they don't want what he has done, that's their choice."

Carolyn Goodman said she would follow in her husband's footsteps by protecting the city's purse and building consensus.

"There is no one who can be Oscar Goodman," she said. "He is a unique individual."

But her rivals hope voters are over her husband's flamboyant leadership.

Chaltiel, a venture capitalist who has pumped more than $1 million of his own money into his campaign, said voters care about new jobs and not family ties. He tells voters, "gin is out, wine is in."

"I want this city to be the most business friendly city in the universe," Chaltiel said. "For years, we have been known as Sin City. For the next 50 years, we should also be known as Business City."