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Nevada Wonk

Poll shows tight mayoral race; Carolyn Goodman stumbles at luncheon

Updated Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | 5:19 p.m.

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Chris Giunchigliani

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Carolyn Goodman

Is the tide turning for Carolyn Goodman?

Goodman has been the front-runner in the Las Vegas mayoral race since she announced her candidacy in February. But a poll released Tuesday showed her in a dead heat with opponent Chris Giunchigliani.

Giunchigliani trailed Goodman by only 2 percentage points, according to the poll conducted earlier this month by the Beneson Strategy Group.

The survey showed Goodman receiving 45 percent of the vote and Giunchigliani receiving 43 percent. Goodman enjoyed a 20-point lead after last month's primary.

The Goodman campaign questioned the accuracy of the poll and the size of the sample. Giunchigliani's campaign pointed out that the Beneson Group accurately predicted the results of the primary, within the margin of error.

The poll was first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston moments after Goodman finished speaking at a luncheon for members of Lambda, Las Vegas' gay, lesbian and transgender chamber of commerce.

The Goodman campaign released its own poll Tuesday in response to the Giunchigliani poll. It showed Goodman leading Guinchigliani 53-31, with about 16 percent of voters undecided. That poll was conducted by Magellan Research and surveyed a group three times larger than Guinchigliani's did.

Goodman struggled at the Wednesday event. She flip-flopped on her position on gay marriage. At first, she said she supported domestic partnerships. Then she suggested that if she were gay, she'd go to a state where same-sex marriages are legal.

A few moments later, she said about domestic partnerships: "(With) my religious beliefs and my own personal way I live my life, I am not in favor of that."

Goodman's campaign manager Bradley Mayer said afterward Goodman does support domestic partnerships.

Goodman also referred to homosexuality as a choice rather than an innate quality, referring to "individuals who prefer a gay or lesbian lifestyle." Many in the audience of more than 100 scoffed at her characterization.

Goodman also received a less-than-favorable reaction when she described people as "transvestites" rather than "transgender." Several people gasped.

Moderator Steve Friess, a freelance writer and blogger, tried several times to push Goodman to answer questions definitively. He didn't have much luck.

Goodman could not say which government departments she would eliminate or consolidate. She previously has advocated for smaller government.

"I can't tell you that," she said. "I'm not in the city (government)."

When asked what LGBT events she has participated in since the primary, Goodman said: "I can't give you specifics since I didn't have the question ahead of time."

Mayer said afterward that Goodman participated in an event with Frank Marino, a Las Vegas female impersonator, and attended a fundraiser her neighbors hosted for her and several members of the gay community.

Giunchigliani also spoke at the Lambda event. (Goodman left half way through her presentation.)

Giunchigliani said she supports gay marriage and pushed to allow it in the state Legislature.

She stressed her commitment to the gay community and named several LGBT events she has participated in for years.

She mentioned the recent AFAN AIDS Walk in Las Vegas as an example.

"I walked the whole thing. I didn't just pay $25 and walk part of it," she said.

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