Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dynasty: Las Vegas?

The intrigue. The mystique. The majesty...

The Goodmans??!!

It seems that the biggest issue being tossed about in Las Vegas' mayoral race may just be the question of whether Carolyn Goodman is some sort of "legacy candidate" running to keep "The Goodman Dynasty" the marquee show in Las Vegas.

Term limits are forcing out her husband after 12 years in office. Her critics said her candidacy was a ploy to keep her husband in power.

Many of those critics support other candidates and saw those people’s political aspirations take a hit when she entered the race. Others are simply projecting their dislike of Oscar, who they see as all style and no substance, onto his wife. Some think 12 years with a Goodman in office is enough.

Carolyn says her husband tried to persuade her not to run, but many political insiders find that hard to believe (in part because Oscar knows as well as anyone that Carolyn wears the pants in the family). Both enjoy the spotlight. Four more years with a mayor in their household would keep them in demand.

Carolyn stresses that she wants to be judged on her own merits. “I am my own person, and I will stand on my own beliefs,” she says adamantly. And she has an impressive professional track record at Meadows.

But in the next breath she introduces herself to voters as “Oscar’s wife.”

It’s a sound strategy, even if she’s loath to own it. Carolyn is a front-runner in the crowded race. A recent poll showed her leading her next closest competitors — Clark County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Larry Brown — by more than a 2 to 1 margin.

Much of that support can likely be attributed to her last name. Oscar is Southern Nevada’s most popular politician, known internationally for his showgirls, gin and “happiest mayor” shtick.

It's never easy when a relative of a politician then runs for that same office. Accusations like these come all the time. Ask Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. Still, it may be a legitimate issue to discuss, especially since we are in a state that cherishes its political dynasties.

Why is Carolyn Goodman running? And for that matter, why are the other candidates running? Whose agenda will the eventual winner serve?

Let's be fair here. It's not as if Carolyn Goodman is the only candidate who can be accused of being part of the dynasty. Both Larry Brown and Steve Ross have had close ties to Mayor Oscar. Victor Chaltiel is a close pawn "friend" of Sheldon Adelson. Chris Giunchigliani's husband is a powerful campaign consultant. Wherever we look, we see all sorts of juice.

So is it a problem that Las Vegas' next mayor may be the wife of the outgoing mayor? Honestly, it's a question I'm still wrestling with. What if Carolyn Goodman actually expands on her platitudes and offers good policy on remaking a Downtown that's accessible to all? What if she really does have more in store for Vegas than just "Oscar's vision"?

But what if she doesn't? Can someone who happily identifies as "Oscar's wife" on the campaign trail be trusted to move past the failed policies of criminalizing the homeless, pursuing endless "condo mania" Downtown, and using unsustainable "growth" at the edges of town to fund sweetheart deals with big developers Downtown?

I guess the jury is still out on that. No matter what last name Las Vegas' next mayor will have, will he or she be able to resist temptation from "the real estate industrial complex"?

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