Las Vegas Sun

June 15, 2019

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jon ralston:

Carolyn Goodman’s vapid, winning campaign

I had extraordinarily low expectations for the Las Vegas mayor’s race. But it has managed not to meet them.

I have written before that the office itself is fundamentally inconsequential, so it somehow seems fitting that an inconsequential 2 percent of Southern Nevada’s population will decide who “leads” the region’s largest city in the post-Oscar Goodman era.

The mayor has little actual power, so the office’s influence comes from who the person is — what he or she says, what he or she can accomplish through force of personality, what character traits he or she possesses or lacks. It has been unrelentingly depressing to watch as none of the candidates, really given the chance to elevate the discussion of the city’s future, have chosen to do anything but simply try to buy the election (Carolyn Goodman and Victor Chaltiel) or pander to certain constituencies (Larry Brown, Chris Giunchigliani, Steve Ross).

Goodman, who is widely expected to get 30 percent-plus on Tuesday and finish first, has said close to nothing of substance the entire campaign. She is Oscar’s wife, she started a private school for the city’s elite and she … and she … and she … is Oscar’s wife.

I don’t know what percentage of Carolyn Goodman’s votes will come from those who love Oscar Goodman — but it will be high. And that is, for lack of a better word, pathetic.

Her campaign hit a nadir, and exposed just how out of touch she is from real life, when she agreed to an interview last week with freelancer Steve Friess, who asked her about the DREAM Act, a huge story for many months last year, and the state’s domestic partnership law, which garnered headlines during the 2009 Legislature.

You can argue that Friess should not have asked Goodman about issues that don’t relate directly to the mayoralty. But because the job is symbolic, because we are voting for someone’s voice and character, a candidate’s positions on those issues could be illuminating.

And were they ever. Some excerpts from Friess’ blog:

On the DREAM ACT, pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which would give residency to certain illegal immigrant students:

Friess: “Do you know what the DREAM Act is?”

Goodman: “Yes.”

Friess: “And what do you think of it?”

Goodman: “You know, it was something I read about the other day and to be perfectly honest with you I remember reading it. I remember something came across my computer and should I do this and could I participate and I couldn’t because we had another event. And I thought, this issue, it’s an embryonic something and it’s something that just started and it needs addressing and exploration.”

If you are not stunned after reading those words, you are either insensate or a blind Goodmanophile.

On repealing the state’s domestic partnership law, passed on a dramatic, landmark vote last session:

Goodman: “I would not support anything until I knew more and would give that thought. I have always believed in the right of the individual to determine his own life interactions and lifestyles … Why is it that I would be intent if I were a gay couple to have this? Then again, that’s not me.”

You either support the law or you don’t. If you are running for mayor of Las Vegas, you are either engaged in the issues of the day or you aren’t. And you should be prepared for certain questions, especially from a writer who often writes about issues important to the gay community. But why prepare when you are … Oscar’s wife.

Friess didn’t exactly ask Goodman for her stance on some obscure line item in the federal or state budget. He asked her about two much-publicized issues, and Goodman answered as if she had been living on another planet.


And then, Friess wrote, after the extensive interview, Goodman’s campaign manager, Bradley Mayer, texted him: “Wanted to make sure to clarify with you that Carolyn absolutely supports domestic partnerships as allowed under SB283. She is not in favor of repealing.”

Really? I bet Goodman decided to be against repeal about the moment she and Mayer got back to the office, realized the blunder and decided, “We better fix this.”

It would be unfair to single out Goodman for this astounding display if not for the fact she is about to win, barring a cataclysm, a primary (and probably the general) for the most high-profile local office in Nevada. Her opponents have not run impressive or scintillating campaigns — some better than others — but this is not about them.

Anointing someone simply because of her last name, and watching her go through the motions as if the coronation is inevitable, should offend even the sensibilities of those with the same low expectations I have.

But I bet it doesn’t.

(Read Friess’ full interview here.)

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