Adelson makes Las Vegas a GOP campaign hot spot

Las Vegas may only be a finalist for the 2016 Republican National Convention, but thanks to high-rolling megadonor Sheldon Adelson it will always be a favorite stop for GOP presidential hopefuls.

Adelson’s personal primary takes place this week in the form of the Republican Jewish Coalition Spring Leadership Meeting at The Venetian. Although former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are among the highlighted speakers, multibillionaire Adelson is the center of attention.

The event is being touted nationally as a sign of the direction the 2016 selection process is going. If the big-spending Adelson approves, that’s good news for the favored candidate.

So far, that candidate appears to be Bush, who made an appearance Thursday at a local public school and was scheduled to be the featured speaker at a private VIP dinner at Adelson’s jet hangar at McCarran International Airport. The Las Vegas Sands Inc. chairman and wife Miriam Adelson dumped nearly $100 million into the 2012 presidential campaign cycle only to see favored candidate Newt Gingrich gain no traction and eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney founder.

Of course, the casino king can afford to make plenty of losing bets. Adelson, 80, is worth an estimated $37.9 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

CITIZEN CULLOTTA: From hits to legit, former Chicago Outfit enforcer Frank Cullotta has moved to Las Vegas, where he pursues a variety of business opportunities, including reinventing himself as a storyteller.

In an interview this week, the longtime criminal reflected, “It is a challenge to do things on the legal side. Sometimes the legal side isn’t that legal, you know what I’m trying to say?”

Sounds like some political fundraisers I’ve heard.

BALLGAME MEMORIES: Major League Baseball is riddled with so many front-page controversies these days it’s easy to forget that at its purest it’s a game played by overgrown kids.

Las Vegas resident Jerry Reuss reminds us of that fact in his warm-hearted memoir, “Bring in the Right-Hander!: My Twenty-Two Years in the Major Leagues.” Published by the University of Nebraska Press, it’s a great way for fans to end spring training and start the regular season.

As he did throughout a career that touched an amazing four decades (1969-1990), Reuss delivers plenty of strikes on the page. But one of my favorite moments is when he describes the omnipresence of announcer Vin Scully’s voice around Dodger Stadium.

“If the crowd was around 20,000 and was quiet, I could hear the radios from around the ballpark when standing on the mound,” Reuss writes. “I couldn’t clearly make out the words, but I could tell from Vin’s cadence where he was in the broadcast. One night while staring at the catcher’s signs, I noticed Vin was in midstory. As a courtesy to the best in the business, I stepped off the rubber, grabbed the rosin bag, gave it a shake, and threw it behind the mound. By this time Vin delivered his punch line, the crowd had its laugh, and I was back on the rubber ... Vin never missed a beat.”

These days, you’re likely to hear Reuss’ voice during radio broadcasts of Las Vegas 51s games. He’s also provided color commentary for ESPN, the Angels, and the Dodgers.

DRONE ON: There’s a big future in drone technology. Gov. Brian Sandoval regularly touts its economic potential for Nevada.

Starting this fall at UNLV, students will be able to earn a minor in it. So perhaps all the youthful years you spent flying those obnoxiously noisy, gas-powered model planes weren’t entirely wasted, after all.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.