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Mayor Goodman’s anniversary gift to wife may arrive tonight

Never ones to shy from celebration, Carolyn and Oscar Goodman decided to call their 49th anniversary mixer a “Street Party” and set it for Monday night in the heart of downtown on Jackie Gaughan Plaza outside the El Cortez.

A few miles away, probably still knocking on doors an hour after sundown in a tattered-collar neighborhood, Las Vegas mayoral candidate Chris Giunchigliani had to be cursing her buzzard’s luck. In addition to the fact the experienced elected official has been running second to the popular wife of the wildly popular Las Vegas mayor, now even the Goodmans’ anniversary toast falls in prime time on the night before the election.

The Goodmans and their fellow celebrators would be surrounded by examples of the current mayor’s redevelopment legacy. From the East Fremont Street renaissance to nearby high-rise condominiums, Oscar Goodman’s tireless carnival barking has paid dividends throughout the downtown corridor.

What that has to do with Carolyn Goodman’s potential to succeed at City Hall is anyone’s guess. But if recent polls are an accurate indicator of Election Day events, we’re likely to find out soon enough.

With a double-digit lead in the latest Review-Journal survey, Goodman appears poised to prevail by a comfortable margin. In a 600-sample poll conducted last week by UNLV’s Cannon Survey Center, Goodman stood at 47.8 percent with Giunchigliani at 30 percent.

Only Giunchigliani’s incredible energy and networking ability and husband/manager Gary Gray’s vast campaign experience make me doubt the professionally crunched numbers. County Commissioner Giunchigliani has never lost a race, and Gray’s winning percentage places him among the best campaign mechanics in Nevada history.

Although it didn’t attract much attention during the predictable debates, and has been entirely obscured by the recent slime-slinging, the race is a testament to the formidable strength of two different but effective political power couples. If the firm of Goodman & Goodman prevails, it won’t be for a lack of effort and strategy on the part of Giunchigliani & Gray.

Come late tonight , political authorities might look back at Goodman’s bruising TV spot that depicted Giunchigliani as shrill and say it made the difference. How else to explain an outcome in a race pitting a very experienced elected official against a political neophyte?

Or perhaps someone will note, while barely acknowledging candidate Goodman’s vast community connections, intellect and effusive personality, that it was the tag team of Carolyn and Oscar that was really responsible for her victory.

Others might observe that Giunchigliani entered the technically nonpartisan mayor’s campaign with an entirely too partisan background. For decades Chris G. has been a proud liberal Democrat. The middle-of-the-road political duties of the mayor’s job didn’t appear to fit her style, but after Las Vegans thrice elected a former mob lawyer to the office, almost anything seemed possible.

Some will decry the mayor’s race as little more than a popularity contest, but that’s politics. If work histories were the grand indicator in determining the success of a candidate, President John McCain would be giving the State of the Union speeches, and Mayor Arnie Adamsen would have prevailed a dozen years ago against a brash criminal defense attorney in a tailored suit who needed a tank of gasoline and a map to find City Hall.

If the polls hold in her favor and she prevails, Carolyn Goodman can thank her hard-working staff of volunteers and her professional campaign duo of Bradley Mayer and Tom Letizia.

Then maybe she’ll thank her husband, the “Happiest Mayor in the Universe,” for the undeniably unique anniversary gift.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Smith.

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