May 10, 1999
Rolling lucky sevens
A former mob lawyer turns
up as the man to beat in the strange Las Vegas mayor's race
BY STEVE FRIESS
LAS VEGASThe man who proudly represented
such notorious clients as Mob enforcer Tony "the Ant"
Spilotro and ear-biting boxer Mike Tyson wants to be mayor
of Las Vegas. And it looks like he just may get his waymuch
to the chagrin of the new guard of the entertainment capital
of the world.
Polls showed self-described mob mouthpiece
Oscar Goodman running 15 points ahead of his two top opponents
heading into the May 4 nonpartisan primary here. "I'm
a populist candidate," says the quick-talking Goodman,
59. "I'll defend the people the way I defend my clients.
And I've got no secrets. My life is on my sleeve."
That's exactly what worries legitimate businesses
here. The Mafia lost its grip on Vegas in the 1980s, when
corporations like Circus Circus Enterprises and Mirage Resorts
took over the show. Those companies imploded the tacky old
Strip digs, replacing them with themed megaresorts like the
$1.9 billion Bellagio, which debuted last year. Shady's out
and posh is in.
The city's new goal is economic diversity.
But nongaming companies are reticent to come to a place known
mostly for its slot machines, quickie weddings, Elvis impersonators,
and washed-up crooners. "Many people are concerned about
what kind of image it would project to have a mayor who has
represented the people Oscar's represented," says Chamber
of Commerce President Pat Shalmy.
But Goodman makes no apologies. At his biggest
fund-raiser, held at a onetime Mob lair near the Strip, descendants
of dead mobsters mingled with local doctors, business executives,
and politicians. The colorful operator even played himself
opposite Joe Pesci's Spilotro in the big-screen epic Casino
and later cooperated in a Goodman biopic, Mob Law.
His two viable opponents, City Councilman
Arnie Adamsen and developer Mark Fine, are guilty of Sin City's
most unforgivable sin: They're boring. And votersaccustomed
to bright lights and actionseem less intrigued by them.
Further bolstering Goodman's chances: residents' soft spoken
Still, Goodman's not a shoo-in. No one knows
better than he that his pastand big mouthmay yet
come back to haunt him. Adamsen has been airing years-old
clips of him espousing outlandish positions on issues such
as legalizing drugs and having the government sell them. Those
wacky pronouncements could overshadow current statements on
serious fare. The bottom line, says Goodman: "However
this turns out, I know I'm running against myself."
to list of US News stories
Go to list of Publications
about this site |
in the news |
important clips |
the china chronicles |
children's story |