Saturday, February 11, 2006

Nevada Senate: Don't Believe the Hype

By Nathan L. Gonzales

A potential challenge to Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (D) is receiving increased attention in the media. Don't take it too seriously.

While, DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (NY), Sen. Barack Obama (IL), and Minority Leader Harry Reid (Ensign's colleague) reportedly have spoken with Goodman about a run -- Reid has even referred to the mayor as a potentially "very, very strong candidate" -- Goodman is a powder keg ready to explode.

Nicknamed the "Lawyer to the Mob," Goodman made a living as a defense attorney for members of the mafia including Meyer Lansky, Tony "The Ant" Spilatro, and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal." Goodman even played himself in the movie Casino.

More recently, in January 2005, Goodman presented the keys of the city to three Playboy playmates, also telling the Review Journal that the ceremony honored Playboy's "wonderful relationship with the city of Las Vegas."

That budding relationship led to an invitation from Playboy for Goodman to be a Celebrity Guest Photographer. "I have always been a fan of Playboy and the way they celebrate and honor the beauty of women," Goodman said, whose photos of Irina Voronina went online in May 2005.

In the Las Vegas Sun, Goodman described his critics as "haters and those who need to get a life," and said he would do it again if given the opportunity.

The mayor has a base in Las Vegas, but voters in booming suburban Clark County, as well as in rural Nevada, are more conservative and will likely find Goodman unacceptable. In 2004, John Kerry lost the state 50% to 48% to President Bush, who favors storing tons of nuclear waste in Nevada. And the most popular Democrat in the state is a pro-life Mormon.

And the idea that the same Democratic Party running as the anti-corruption party nationwide would promote the Senate candidacy of a former lawyer for the mob is extremely ironic.

This piece first appeared on Political Wire on February 8, 2006.