Mob lawyer favored to win Las Vegas mayoral race
By Siobhan Darrow/CNN
LAS VEGAS (AllPolitics, June 8) -- Las Vegas voters will pick their new mayor Tuesday as former mob lawyer Oscar Goodman faces veteran City Councilman Arnie Adamsen. Goodman came within 277 votes of winning the job in last month's election and polls project that he will come out on top this time.
In this city of glitz and gambling, understatement is one sin Las Vegans won't tolerate. "One thing I can assure you that I can offer is a little bit of charisma. I've got a bit of a reputation," says Goodman.
Las Vegas mayoral candidate Oscar Goodman
Goodman is a well-known Las Vegas figure, having won cases for such notorious mobsters as Tony "The Ant" Spilotro and Meyer Lansky. He played himself in Martin Scorsese's "Casino," a movie about organized crime in Las Vegas.
His clients have included Spilotro, the gangster who, legend has it, put a rival's head in a vise and squeezed his eyeballs out.
Goodman says his past is a plus with the voters and he is just defending the underdog: "The people love the people that I've represented as far as bringing intrigue into the area here."
Although Goodman doesn't want to advertise some of his more unsavory clients, refusing to allow CNN's cameras into his inner office stuffed with mobster memorabilia, he is also blitzing the airwaves with his new Mr. Nice Guy image.
"I will not allow the citizens of Las Vegas to be pushed around by those developers who are out to make a fast buck," he says in one of his campaign advertisements.
Bugsy Siegel put Las Vegas on the map back in the 1940s. Since then, the city has worked at shedding its reputation as a Mob haven. It's trying to lure families and upscale tourist with a more wholesome image. Goodman's opponent, the bit too bland Iowa-born Arnie Adamsen, says Goodman will tarnish that image.
"Las Vegas has spent millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars. in advertising promotions over the last 10 to 12 years to show that we are no longer Sin City," Adamsen said.
Adamsen and his supporters say Goodman will turn back the clock for Las Vegas.
"That's Oscar Goodman's Las Vegas. Mobsters, drug dealers and sex offenders set free. Now that will be a city we can be proud of," according to one of Adamsen's campaign advertisements.
But if opinion polls are right, Las Vegans look ready to wager the city's future on a rakish future of the past.