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Spokesman says GOP debate at Venetian will be bias-free

Casino king Sheldon Adelson probably wouldn’t mind stacking the deck in the Republican presidential primary — it might save him a few million in campaign contributions — but would he be willing to pack the house at an upcoming debate at The Venetian?

Why of course not, his political spokesman Andy Abboud tells Politico.

“That’s the last thing we would do,” Abboud told Politico’s Alex Isenstadt in an email. “We want all campaigns to feel welcome and comfortable. Nobody has a thing to worry about.”

Various media outlets this week have reported grumbles of concern, most of it from anonymous sources, emanating from Republican camps as the Dec. 15 debate on CNN approaches. The free-spending Adelson has made no endorsement but is said to be heavily leaning in favor of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

CHEERS FOR CHARLIE: Want a tip on a horse? Charlie Grezo could have given you some of the best around. His word was good, and his knowledge of thoroughbreds was impeccable, and he might have known his way around the bookmaking racket, too, come to think of it.

The longtime Las Vegas race handicapper and genuine member of the sporting crowd, ran strong in life’s race before recently crossing the finish line. Originally from Syracuse, Grezo was 85.

FILL THE TRUCK: The Clark County Fire Department’s annual Fill the Fire Truck toy drive is set to start today at local Wal-Mart stores. Unwrapped toys and gift cards will be collected and distributed to needy children throughout the valley. It’s an easy way to make someone’s Christmas special.

SPORTS NOTES: Incredible week for Las Vegas athletes. The Nationals’ Bryce Harper is easily the National League MVP. The Cubs’ Chris Bryant is the overwhelming choice as the NL’s Rookie of the Year. And Noah Gragson, just 17, this week was named the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year while competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

I think I was still trying to get my driver’s license at 17.

TURKEY A LA KING: The approach of Thanksgiving fills me with many warm memories of family and friends, but it also reminds me of the enigmatic Howard Hughes. The nutty billionaire arrived mysteriously during the Thanksgiving holiday in 1966, spent a fortune to control the casino, real estate and political landscapes, and departed the valley like a wisp of cigar smoke at Thanksgiving 1970.

Some folks would argue that eccentric pilgrim Hughes was also plucked like a turkey.

ON THE BOULEVARD: County commissioners turned the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign purple Thursday to raise pancreatic cancer awareness. It’s the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. … The troubled Miracle Flights for Kids children’s charity was overdue for a change of the guard, and this week longtime Las Vegas advertising executive Mark Brown emerged as the new chairman of the nonprofit. Miracle Flights was victimized by the default of a $2.2 million loan it made to the now-defunct Med Lien Management, a medical bill collector tied to Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald. A McDonald partner, Brad Esposito, has admitted in a court filing that the company owes the charity more than $3 million, including unpaid interest, on the loan. Just to prove they’re the forgiving type, GOP stalwarts re-elected McDonald chairman of the state Republican Party.

BOULEVARD II: How sharp are these culinary knives? Culinary Local 226 officials continue to regularly rally against Station Casinos over its relationship with embattled Deutsche Bank. A few dozen union members turned out Thursday at Lions Memorial Park near the Sawyer Building, in which a regularly scheduled meeting of the state Gaming Control Board was taking place..

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Contact him at 702 383-0295, or jsmith@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.

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