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Goodman to be gov.'s race spoiler?
by Harry Spencer
Dec 18, 2009 | 930 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href=>Tribune file/Debra Reid</a> - Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said he's leaving the Democratic party to be an independent and keep his political options open.
Tribune file/Debra Reid - Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said he's leaving the Democratic party to be an independent and keep his political options open.
The news early this week that Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman had changed his political party registration from Democrat to Independent sent a number of serious shock waves through the camps of announced candidates for the governor’s chair in 2010.

For many months, both Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and Goodman have bandied about which of them should be on top of an independent ticket. Recently, Cashell bowed out of entering the state sweepstakes and insisted he will run for another term as mayor of “The Biggest Little City.”

In some polls conducted in southern Nevada as to a hypothetical race among Goodman, Democrat Rory Reid, Republican newcomer Brian Sandoval and incumbent Jim Gibbons, Goodman emerges as the frontrunner.

Not too long ago, the owner of Sunbelt Communications, Jim Rogers, had some one-on-one TV interviews with Goodman during which the Vegas mayor made a lot of sense when questioned about statewide problems. Toward the end of the last of these sessions, Rogers came right out and asked Goodman if he would be a candidate for the governorship. As all good politicians are wont to do, Goodman artfully sidestepped a “yes” or “no” answer but noted he was still considering a run for governor. Rogers scored a minor coup when he got Goodman to agree to make his formal announcement on Rogers’ TV station when, and if, a decision is reached.

While most of the attention next year will be focused on the mid-term elections for the U.S. Senate and Congress, the Nevada Governor’s race might not lag far behind in popularity. The Republican primary for the governorship should be the hottest with Gibbons determined to run on his conservative record and Sandoval pledging to bring “new and fresh” ideas to Carson City. On the Democrat side, Reid is “lock” to cruise through the primary and should Goodman actually declare, there is probably no way he could lose an independent primary should one occur.

Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid has, for months, been running a shadow campaign for re-election with his heavy TV schedule throughout the state. Here in northern Nevada, the major TV outlets can vouch for the fact that the upcoming Reid election “buy” will keep them happy during tough recession times. Based on those same types of southern Nevada polls, Reid’s leading challenger for the Senate seat, Sue Lowden, currently holds a double-digit lead over the incumbent. This is pretty startling since Lowden is virtually unknown outside Clark County and has yet to plunge into the media waters with any sort of consistent advertising campaign.

Celebrity Corner

Superstars of the Silver Screen that had northern Nevada connections still continue to show up with amazing regularity on local cable network shows. Case in point last week was the screening of an MGM musical entitled “In the Good Old Summertime.” The movie starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson and was actually a remake of “Little Shop Around the Corner,” an old black-and-white that featured a very young Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. “Shop” was done sans music but the storyline was kept pretty much intact for the “Summertime” remake.

Garland was a regular performer for Harrah’s Tahoe and we always made it a point to catch at least one of her performances in the South Shore Room. On one such occasion, we had decided to spend a day at the lake and catch Garland’s dinner show then stay overnight and hit the lake again the next day. Between water skiing runs, we were relaxing on the beach and were approached by two men dressed in casual attire. One was renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset. He introduced his Gucci-loafer-and-gold-chains-wearing companion as Sid Luft, a former husband of Garland’s. The two enquired if we would use our boat to transport them over to Skyland, a short distance away, where Garland was ensconced in the Harrah beachside mansion. Luft said he wanted to see his daughter, Lorna. We motored around and when we got about 50 yards from the shore, Lipset shouted out that he saw the glint of sunshine off a rifle that one of the security guards was aiming in our direction. A high speed 180-turn was in order as Lipset and Luft hit the bottom of the boat. We got back to Zephyr Cove a lot quicker than we left it.

Van Johnson was in Reno back in the 1940s when he co-starred with Loretta Young in a movie called “Mother was a Freshman.” As was the case with most Reno “location” shots in the early half of the 20th century, all filming was done at the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Many years later, I chanced to meet Johnson when he was visiting the Kings Castle at Incline Village. He still had fond memories of the time he spent in Reno on his original visit.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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