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December 1, 2015

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Steve Ross fires opening shots of mayoral race at Carolyn Goodman


Christopher DeVargas

Las Vegas City Councilman and mayoral candidate Steve Ross, March 10, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Carolyn Goodman speaks at a Las Vegas mayoral debate sponsored by various neighborhood associations Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

For the past five years, Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross was one of Mayor Oscar Goodman’s loyal foot soldiers — a consistent vote in support of the mayor’s agenda.

Even after Goodman walked into Ross’ office five weeks ago and dropped a bombshell — Goodman’s wife, Carolyn, would run for mayor despite promises to the contrary — Ross refused to denigrate his buddy.

“He was more concerned about how I feel,” Ross said of the mayor at the time.

Last week, the lovefest — or at least the feigned politeness — ended as Ross lobbed the first attack in what to that point had been a friendly race.

It was directed squarely at the Goodmans: “Is Carolyn good with a mop? With 50,000 Las Vegans out of a job ... Oscar is leaving a big mess to clean up,” Ross said via Twitter.

Carolyn Goodman took the jab in stride, noting that Ross had voted with her husband so often that their council records are, for all intents and purposes, identical.

The mayor declined to respond. “Water off a duck’s back,” he said.

Ross didn’t let up. On Wednesday, he accused Carolyn Goodman of saying her husband’s policies hurt the Clark County School District.

On Thursday, he said Las Vegas leads the nation in unemployment because the mayor isn’t focused on jobs.

The attacks foreshadow more of what is to come in the mayoral race. With 18 candidates vying for two spots in the general election, candidates are pulling out all the stops to secure a victory.

Early primary voting starts Saturday. The primary is April 5. Provided no candidate secures more than

50 percent of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes advance to the June general election.

Polls have consistently shown Ross in fourth place, behind Goodman and Clark County Commissioners Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani.

His pointed commentary reflects his standing. Ross needs to do something to change the dynamics if he wants to stay in the race.

Ross said he’s only trying to set the record straight.

“I don’t think I’ve done any negative ads. I think what I’ve done is brought out the facts,” he said. But he admitted, “the gloves are off.”

“I’m a fighter,” he said. “I have no problem getting my hands dirty. If that’s what it’s going to take, to go out into the parking lot and scuff a bit to teach someone the truth, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Ross has focused solely on the Goodmans. Carolyn Goodman is the candidate to beat, and Ross is likely still upset that she’s in the race.

“The best way to get attention is going after the front-runner,” UNLV political scientist Dave Damore said. “And she’s not going to attack back. It’s not her style, and she doesn’t need to acknowledge him. She’s got the money, she’s got the support. She wants to do nothing to change the dynamics of the race.”

Although voters say they don’t like negative campaigns, mudslinging does have an effect. In the mayoral race, the leading candidates sound similar, advocating downtown redevelopment and a need for economic diversification.

Ross’ jabs could set him apart.

“They are going to have to go after each other,” said political consultant Sig Rogich, who is not involved in the mayoral race. “They all know they are in a tough primary.”

Early on, all of the leading candidates said they would not start a war of words, but all vowed to respond if targeted.

Attacking early in a campaign is difficult with a field of 18, five or six of whom are contenders. Campaigns run the risk of attacking the wrong candidate, someone who wouldn’t advance anyway, or taking jabs at too many opponents and turning voters off.

That will likely change when the field is down to two and the free-for-all becomes a head-to-head battle. Then both candidates left standing will likely start throwing blows.

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