weather icon Clear

Cloobeck: ‘I’m bringing my A-game’ to the Goodman recall

Top Democratic donor Stephen J. Cloobeck said he’s prepared to spend “whatever it takes” to recall Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

“I know what it will cost to be successful, and have the funds set aside,” Cloobeck said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m bringing my A-game to this fight. She’s violated the world-class respect of the state of Nevada, and more importantly, of the city of Las Vegas.”

Cloobeck declined to state specifically how much money he will spend, but political strategists say his commitment improves the chances of the recall campaign amid ongoing social distancing.

On May 6, former professional poker player Doug Polk, who’s spearheading the campaign, filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition, accusing Goodman of not acting responsibly in her push to reopen non-essential businesses amid the coronavirus shutdown.

This followed a series of controversial comments she made during national interviews. Polk created a YouTube video critical of Goodman’s comments and a website to solicit support for the recall.

Goodman, a former Democrat now registered as a non-partisan, declined to comment through a city spokesman.

Cloobeck, 58, a resort industry entrepreneur and philanthropist, said he brings four decades of experience in politics and running campaigns to the recall effort.

[ 7 things to know about Stephen Cloobeck ]

He said he learned about the recall through media reports and reached out to Polk , offering to “combine forces” with him. Cloobeck, who only revealed his support publicly this week, said he expects to provide Polk with “coaching and counseling” in addition to money.

“This young man took it upon himself to do this on his own,” Cloobeck said. “He is a well- intentioned, aspirational man, and he’s got a tremendous social media presence. I like his style. He’s sharp and he cares deeply about Las Vegas and Nevada.”

Veteran political strategists estimate that Cloobeck, the founder and former chairman of Diamond Resorts International, could spend between $100,00 and $300,000 on the campaign.

Cloobeck, who currently runs Cloobeck Companies, LLC, is prepared to pay people, including those who lost jobs in the COVID-19 scare, up to $20 for each valid signature collected, a source said. He also has a team of political operatives at his disposal.

“When you have that kind of backing and that kind of money, I’m pretty confident they’ll get the needed signatures,” said Republican consultant Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, who has worked on a city recall campaign in the past.

“This is no longer just a grassroots effort. This is like a Fortune 500 operation. Cloobeck has a long and rich history of being involved in the political process, and with that comes a lot of relationships that he can bring to the table.”

Coronavirus impact

Dan Hart, a longtime Democratic strategist, agreed.

“Nobody knows what it’s like to recall someone in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic,” Hart said. “But if there’s an organization that could do it, it would be Cloobeck and his team. They have the skill and the funding. They seem to be very organized.”

But another longtime strategist, who did not want to be identified, was not as optimistic.

“City recalls historically have been tough because you’ve got to find voters that actually voted,” the consultant said, adding the difficulties in dealing with the virus at the same time should not be underestimated.

“How many people are going to open their door to sign a petition in the era of COVID-19? With people worrying about family members being sick, going back to work or getting unemployment, it’s going to be difficult finding folks to set all those things aside. I think it’s a long-shot.”

Molly Forgey, a Democratic spokeswoman, said her party is not involved in the recall.

“But we still disagree with the mayor’s call to open the Las Vegas Strip prematurely, and really we’re appalled to hear her offer the city up as a control group,” she said. “We continue to support the governor’s science-based approach to re-opening our state’s economy.”

Reno-based Republican consultant Robert Uithoven defended Goodman’s position.

“I think there are a lot of people inside and outside Las Vegas who appreciate the mayor for taking the stand that she did,” Uithoven said. “You’ll see a lot of people come to the mayor’s defense.

“Voters tend to be skeptical of a campaign funded predominately by one person. But I certainly think the mayor ought to be taking this seriously.”

Goodman has come under fire over national interviews she gave last month putting her at odds with Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive to shut down non-essential businesses, including casinos.

It was her appearances on national television last month — first with NBC’s Katy Tur, then CNN’s Anderson Cooper — that prompted the fiercest criticisms. Goodman said the city should be used as a control group to test whether social distancing measures were working and suggested that businesses that reopen and are hit hard by virus outbreaks would simply be swallowed by competition.

Cloobeck, who supports Sisolak’s approach, has contributed more than $492,000 to the state Democratic Party, campaign records show. He also contributed $15,000 to Sisolak’s campaign and another $50,000 to the elected governor’s inaugural committee.

Polk needs to collect 6,745 valid signatures by Aug. 4 from registered voters who participated in last year’s municipal primary to trigger a recall election.

Reporter Shea Johnson contributed to this report.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing. Support our journalism.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation - VIDEO
The former senate aide claims Biden assaulted her in 1993 when he was a senator. Biden first denied the accusations via a public post on Medium. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RJ interview with Sisolak on the reopening plan for Nevada - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on the plan for reopening Nevada during the coronavirus pandemic. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak reacts to Goodman CNN interview- VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman repeated her call to immediately reopen businesses during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, leading to a reaction from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak praises Nevadans for staying at home, saving lives - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it’s still too early to know when the state’s COVID-19 shutdown orders could be lifted or when businesses could start to reopen their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump gives governors 3-phase approach to open US - VIDEO
President Donald Trump declared victory in America’s war against the “invisible enemy” as the president’s Coronavirus Task Force released “Opening up America Again” guidelines. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump names Jacky Rosen to task force on reopening economy - VIDEO
President Donald Trump named Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to be a member of his Opening Up America Again Congressional Group Thursday to advise him on coronavirus policy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders endorses Joe Biden for president - VIDEO
On April 13, former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his official endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders drops out of 2020 Democratic race for president - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential bid on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic National Convention postponed - VIDEO
The Democratic National Convention was set to take place over four days in the middle of July. Democratic officials have now confirmed the convention will take place the week of Aug. 17. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)