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November 1, 2014

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Las Vegas mayor still eyeing a run for governor

Oscar Goodman says he’s been told raising money wouldn’t be an issue

He might not yet be an official candidate for governor, but Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman continues to flirt with the idea. And talk about it extensively.

"I'm still considering it," the 70-year-old mayor said in answer to the first question he got at his weekly press conference.

But rather than let it go at that, Goodman continued to talk about a possible run for governor in 2010 for the next several minutes:

-- He noted he changed his party affiliation to non-partisan earlier this week and that many people have told him he could make a difference if he would run.

-- He said he has been told by many people that money wouldn't be a problem.

-- No, he wouldn't mind living up in Carson City, either. He joked that he found a good watering hole there that he liked when he tried cases there as an attorney.

-- And he says he would run a different kind of campaign -- he wouldn't go negative against his opponents. He probably wouldn't even mention his opponents by name, he said.

But, no, he hasn't made up his mind.

"A decision as to whether I'm going to run for another office is a life-changing, life-altering decision," he said. "I'm happy as the mayor of Las Vegas. I'm happy with my family here."

Goodman said there's a lot keeping him in Las Vegas.

"I love the community. Whatever I would run for would take me away from here," he said.

He said he is a bit of a workaholic and puts in 12-hour days as mayor, six days a week, sometimes working on Sunday.

"I know if I got involved with another position, I would work as diligently and it would take a lot of effort," he said. "And it's a serious decision and I don't want to even consider doing anything unless I could feel I would make a difference."

Goodman says he's talked to some economists who are familiar with state governmental issues.

"They tell me I could make a difference," he said. "I'll keep on exploring it. I'm not under any time limitations."

Goodman said he has also found out that he wasn't under a time limit to change his party affiliation. He said he originally thought that Dec. 31 was a deadline, so he changed this week to avoid any problems later -- if he was to run.

"I'm not in a hurry," he said.

He said that he expected he would be able to raise enough money to run a competitive campaign.

"I've had enough people call me saying money shouldn't be a problem," he said. "I haven't tested the waters on that. But if they are to be taken at their word, then money shouldn't be a problem."

But right now, he's got a lot on his plate in being the mayor, including dealing with city revenue shortfalls, he said.

He plans to hold several community meetings, at least two nights a week during January and February, along with City Manager Betsy Fretwell, to meet with Las Vegas residents to find out which programs could be cut.

Goodman acknowledged that there is a Nevada statute that requires a governor to live in the state capital.

"I like Carson City," he said. "I like to drink up there, to be honest with you. I drink at Adele's. They treat me beautifully. I don't want to single Adele's out because I drink every place up there."

Goodman said he has always like the rural counties and has made a lot of friends over the years with the mayors of the rural communities.

He said the polls show that he gets virtually no support in those areas -- a recent poll showed him doing well statewide, but getting only about 8 percent outside of Clark County, he said.

"I figure if I announce I'm running for something, I have the various mayors stand up next to me saying 'Oscars a good guy and he's the great hope,' and I imagine I can at least triple that," he said.

A recent poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed that Goodman is neck and neck with former U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval in a hypothetical general election matchup for governor. In the poll, Goodman had 35 percent compared with Republican Sandoval's 32 percent and Democrat Rory Reid's 24 percent. Nine percent were undecided.

In a Republican primary, Sandoval would have 39 percent compared with incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons' 18 percent and former North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon's 6 percent. Thirty-seven percent were undecided.

So when would Goodman decide?

"I think one of your colleagues talks about epiphanies," Goodman told reporters. "I don't know what's going to make me decide. My wife and myself, we talk about it ... It's a serious decision."

"I don't know why anybody could want to be the governor of Nevada. To me, you have to be a bit of a nut, which I qualify for that," he said, smiling. "Who would want to be governor at this time when there's no money and everything's broken? So people tell me I could make a difference and life's short, so maybe we'll make a difference."

Goodman said if he didn't decide to run for governor, he probably wouldn't go back into private law practice when his term expires as mayor.

"The truth of the matter is, I'm treated like a king around here. Where ever I go, it's like a rock star," he said. "I'm not saying that braggingly. If you went around with me, you would see it. People honk their horns. People go out of their way to make me comfortable. And if I went into court I would have to be very subservient, as an attorney is before a judge, and I don't know if I could do that any more."

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