It’s Carolyn’s campaign, but the Goodmans are in this together

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman and his wife of 47 years Carolyn Goodman renewed their wedding vows Wednesday at the Fremont Street Experience in celebration of 9/9/09.
Photo: Justin M. Bowen

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman speaks during a Chinese New Year celebration by children from the Meadows School at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman discusses Super Bowl proposition bets with radio host Brian Blessing during a radio show at the Las Vegas Hilton race and sports book Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011.

Mayoral race


Oscar Goodman

On the day after his wife officially filed the paperwork required to succeed him as mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman made a quintet of public appearances. During this typically madcap Goodman pentathlon, the Happiest Mayor in the Universe showed why he proclaims himself as such.

He breezed into P.J. Clarke’s at one end of The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, then bounced to a Chinese New Year celebration performed by Meadows School students at the other.

He hustled to Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen’s State of the City Speech at M Resort, then darkened the entrance of the Las Vegas Hilton Superbook for the first time in 12 years, where with great zeal he provided ESPN Radio 1100 and 98.9-FM sports host Brian Blessing his Super Bowl selections (take the Packers at -2 ½ and over 45 are his chief picks). He boasted that, before the season, a friend and former client put $100 down on the Packers at 9-to-1 to win it all. Asked if he’d load up on the Steelers to hedge that bet, he laughed and said, “No hedging! I’ll be here at 7:15 Sunday to collect!”

He finished the day with a duck-in to Triple George, to buy a round of drinks for a group of ladies he met at an event weeks ago, one of whom prepared for him the perfect Goodman Bombay Sapphire martini.

Twice in this daylong sprint, Goodman was forced to wait. Each pause in the action involved his wife, Carolyn. Both of these episodes unfolded at The Forum Shops.

As president of Meadows School until she steps down in June, Carolyn Goodman was on hand and easy to find at the Chinese New Year celebration, when dozens of Meadows School kids were to snake through the mall while donning brilliant red costumes. They were expected at 10 a.m., but by 10:15, there was still no parade. With a scheduled news conference in the offing at 11 a.m., Mayor Goodman began tapping his hands against his sides and glancing demonstratively at his watch.

“Where are these kids?” he finally asked his wife. “I’ve got a city to run!” She turned to him in mock exasperation and said, “They’ll be here.” He winked back.

Later, Carolyn Goodman was explaining why she made her announcement in such an unexpected manner. And, why she decided against her husband’s advice at all. The answer was lengthy, but in essence she said she opted in because she believes that she is the candidate best suited to move her husband’s vision and initiatives forward.

“I want to make sure we maintain the energy and focus that has brought us to this point continues,” she said. As for the timing of her filing, which took even her husband unawares, she said, “Friday was the deadline. That’s what motivated me, the deadline. It was time to fish or cut bait.”

At the end of this explanation, off to the side, Goodman was again glancing at his watch. When told the delay was so Carolyn Goodman could talk about her motives and timing for running for mayor, he asked, “Oh? What’d she say?”

It seemed he was sincerely curious to her explanation, as if the man married to Carolyn Goodman for 48 years had not yet heard it himself. When he did, he said, “Good answer. One thing about Carolyn Goodman is, she does not lie. Not even a little white lie that might benefit her. When she tells you something, you can take it to the bank.”

The Goodmans both say Carolyn Goodman arrived at the decision during her slumber Tuesday night. He had warned her against it because the mayoral schedule of public appearances, which is largely self-imposed, is so burdensome. She relented for the reasons given, and also because she is her own person.

It was offered to Mayor Goodman, twice, during the day that his wife might be running primarily so she can keep firing his artillery in what would be a fourth Oscar Goodman term.

“Anyone who thinks that,” he says, “doesn’t know Carolyn Goodman.”

Her announcement was so unexpected, you’re left to wonder how it hit some of the other top candidates, such high-profile Las Vegas elected officials as County Commissioners Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani. Goodman says his wife won’t go negative, might not even mention the other candidates by name. She’s certainly the most famous name on the ballot outside Las Vegas. As news of her decision was reported locally, news outlets from across the country started seeking comment from Goodman. Even the London Times tried to track him down, something he mentioned repeatedly during the day.

But as mayor, Goodman is curtailed in how much support he can display for his wife. “I’m not allowed to talk about (the race), as mayor. But as a husband, I can talk about things. This is a modern-day love affair. We’ve been married for 49 years, come June. She’s her own lady, but we are totally in love.”

Individually, the Goodmans are powerful. Collectively, they might be unbeatable. The mayor’s bet is that the city will learn what he has, that his wife is worth waiting for.

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