- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LAS VEGAS | Mayor Oscar Goodman’s wife easily topped 17 other candidates in a primary election to replace him as Sin City’s leader — but she didn’t get an outright win.

Carolyn Goodman captured 37 percent of the vote in the crowded field Tuesday, more than double the ballots of her nearest competitors.

But the first lady needed more than 50 percent of the vote to become mayor. Instead, she will face off against the second-place finisher, Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, in the June 7 general election.

Mr. Goodman has led the city for 12 years with his entourage of bedazzled showgirls and his gin martinis.

Forced to select his successor, voters now must choose between a woman who says the city needs a serious leader or the mother of Mr. Goodman’s four children.

Mrs. Goodman and Mrs. Giunchigliani both have backgrounds in education and penchants for fiery prose. And both are prepared to push the other out of the way for a win.

Term limits kept Mr. Goodman from running for a fourth term. To protect his legacy, he campaigned hard for his wife, who promised to carry out his vision of a transformed downtown Las Vegas and never shied away from her husband’s shadow.

“It is just reasonable for a smooth transition of the city and all the people who love him and know what he has done and want this to continue,” Mrs. Goodman said. “That is the question: Are you satisfied with where we are and do you want to continue on that pathway, or do you want to continue in another direction?”

Mrs. Giunchigliani conceded that Mr. Goodman was as much her opponent as was his wife.

“I am running against a name, let’s put it that way,” she said in a telephone interview. “But I think the public recognizes that the time for that type of leadership style has passed.”

Mrs. Goodman stood out on the ballot because of her married name. But she is a Las Vegas player in her own right. She is the founder of a private school attended by the children of casino owners and has rubbed elbows with Sin City’s elite alongside her husband for years.

After her victory was secured, Mrs. Goodman sent a photo to supporters on Twitter that showed her celebrating with her husband, their children and their grandchildren. The message read, “The heart and soul of my life … my family.”

The general election is bound to get ugly.

In the primary, the first lady said Mrs. Giunchigliani didn’t share her grasp on education because the county commissioner never had children, while Mrs. Giunchigliani questioned Mrs. Goodman’s qualifications.

“She has certainly been in politics for a long, long time, and I know she is very, very experienced in the political world,” Mrs. Goodman said Tuesday night. “That’s something. I am not a politician. It’s going to be a learning curve for me.”

A former state assemblywoman and school teacher, Mrs. Giunchigliani said the politician label doesn’t bother her.

“I’ve always been an independent thinker,” she said. “I’ve been able to stand up and vote for my conscience.”



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