Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006 | 8:03 a.m.
The challengers to veteran Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani and Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid have about as much chance of winning their respective commission contests as the UNLV football team does of playing for the national championship next January.
Lacking well-known or well-funded opponents, Reid and Giunchigliani are gliding through fall campaigns that seem little more than electoral formalities.
Despite the stacked odds, Republican Joe Thibodeau and Isaac Shoham - an independent who accidentally registered as an Independent American - have one thing going for them in their race against Giunchigliani in the District E race: honesty.
Asked to describe his chances for victory, Thibodeau said: "Slim to none."
Similarly, Shoham, asked how his campaign is going, replied: "Very poorly."
Reid's sole challenger in District G, Matthew O'Neil, did not return several phone calls.
Thibodeau, a Clark County building inspector, said he decided to run despite the odds because "all the politicians have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar," a reference to four former county commissioners who have been convicted or pleaded guilty as part of a federal corruption trial earlier this year.
"I think it is time to get someone in there who is not a politician," Thibodeau said.
His goals if elected would be to step up code enforcement and to promote volunteerism to help address problems such as graffiti, he said.
Shoham, a semiretired businessman and former Israeli military officer, said he took on the uphill challenge because the largely urban District E is in a state of decay .
"I can make people work for me," he said, citing his military background.
But the challenges of a small-time candidacy have proven difficult, he said.
Shoham, who is president of the Georgetown Homeowners Association at Las Vegas Country Club, got off to a rocky start when he tried to file as a nonpartisan candidate. Through a miscommunication with the election department, he signed up as an Independent American candidate.
"When I went to register as an independent, they told me I couldn't do it," Shoham said. "Somehow I got locked in as an Independent American. I almost disagree with everything they do."
He wants to crack down on county workers who he says are not always doing their jobs and, like Thibodeau, wants to provide volunteer opportunities for residents.
Giunchigliani, who knocked off incumbent Myrna Williams in a nasty Democratic primary, is facing a different kind of challenge . She had to send out letters to supporters after the primary reminding them that the election wasn't over and asking them to keep up her yard signs.
Reid, who is seeking a second term, has never spoken to his opponent. No debates are scheduled between Reid and O'Neil. But, like Giunchigliani, he is using the election cycle to touch base with constituents.
Although he faces only a token challenge, the face time with voters is important in a year marked with revelations of past corruption on the board - the source of an anti-incumbent sentiment that may have helped Giunchigliani oust Williams.
"I think people are very cynical about the commission, and I understand why they are," Reid said. "(This election) is an opportunity to talk to more people about what their concerns are. It's kind of like getting a report card."
Reid, the son of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, is reminding voters of his accomplishments, such as updating the county's master plans so that nonconforming zone changes are no longer the norm.
Giunchigliani, meanwhile, is preparing what will likely be her first proposal as a commissioner if she wins - ethics legislation that would ban commissioners from fundraising except within a certain period before an election.
Reid's challenger, O'Neil, said in an interview in July that his greatest asset was his freedom from special interests. At the time of that interview, O'Neil thought he would face Reid in the August primary. Instead, because there were no Republicans in the race, the two Democrats skipped the primary and will face off Nov. 7.