Las Vegas Mayor Looks to Wife to Succeed Him

LAS VEGAS -- Sin City's martini-swilling, term-limited mayor might have found a loophole that would let him hang around Las Vegas City Hall for a few more years.

Banned from a fourth term, Oscar Goodman announced Wednesday that he will do everything in his power to ensure his wife, Carolyn, succeeds him as mayor.

It marked the first time the self-proclaimed "happiest mayor in the universe" has endorsed a candidate since entering city politics. He said his motivations for backing the mother of his four children were simple.

"Let's put it this way," he jested, "I love my dinner."

As Las Vegas mayor, Oscar Goodman's unbuttoned style has attracted national attention and become a symbol of Sin City's glitz and excess. At public events, he often has been found with a martini and an arm draped around the waist of a barely-clad Las Vegas showgirl. He has worked to revive Las Vegas' once decaying downtown and tried to lure a major sports team with promises of a state-of-the-art stadium.

Carolyn Goodman founded a private pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school in Las Vegas in 1984 and ran it until 2009. After her resignation that year, she told the Las Vegas Sun, "The only reason I would even consider running for mayor is if we don't find someone who is truly going to carry that torch."

Critics grumble that Carolyn Goodman's candidacy all but ensures the family's continued grip over City Hall. Oscar Goodman is, after all, a popular, well-connected former lawyer who garnered 84 percent of the vote in his final re-election bid in 2007.

The couple sat side by side as Carolyn Goodman filed her campaign paperwork Wednesday and a gaggle of reporters watched.

"I said, 'I thought about it all night long, too, and I am going to do it,"' she said. "He said, 'You go girl."'

Oscar Goodman denied that his wife's mayoral ambitions were born of a need to remain on the public stage.

"We are not in this for the rubber chicken," he said, alluding to the ubiquitous entree served at so many political dinners.

Carolyn Goodman said she would continue her husband's goals of growing Las Vegas and would even honor his tradition of carting showgirls to public events.

She summed up her campaign advantage in one word: "huge." But she also assured voters that she would campaign on her own laurels.

"We share," she said. "But we each have our own lives and our own brains."

At least 11 other candidates have filed to run, including a handful of city and county representatives with close ties to the mayor. The deadline to enter the race is Friday.

"Oscar has had his 12 years, it is someone else's turn," said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, a former state legislator who plans to file for the mayoral race Thursday.

Giunchigliani said the city needs a mayor who will focus on community-building and downtown revitalization. If elected, she said she would not travel with an entourage of glitter-flecked showgirls.

"I think that time has come and gone," she said. "We are more than that."