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Mob Lawyer Favored in Las Vegas Race

May 5, 1999

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ After spending decades keeping mobsters such as Meyer Lansky and Tony ``the Ant″ Spilotro out of prison, lawyer Oscar Goodman made a dramatic opening statement in the political arena.

Goodman came within 277 votes Tuesday of winning the mayor’s job outright against eight other candidates, establishing himself as the solid favorite in next month’s runoff against longtime politician Arnie Adamsen.

On Wednesday, both Goodman and Adamsen referred to New York Yankees legends in assessing their chances in the final election.

``I’m the luckiest man alive,″ Goodman said, paraphrasing Lou Gehrig.

``It ain’t over till it’s over,″ Adamsen said, quoting Yogi Berra.

It almost was over Tuesday night, when Goodman got 24,267 votes, or 49.4 percent, just short of the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win the job without a runoff. Adamsen was second with 14,395 votes, or 29.3 percent.

``We’re right at the brink,″ Goodman said. ``It’s just another month before we get it done.″

Goodman, 59, played himself in the movie ``Casino″ and was known for decades as the mouthpiece for the mob because of his defense of people like Spilotro, who according to legend put a rival’s head in a vise and squeezed his eyeballs out.

Goodman transformed himself into a populist favorite in his first try for political office. He said he was a defender of the oppressed and the only candidate who would impose fees on developers to help solve the city’s traffic and air pollution woes.

Though the mayor has only one of five votes on the City Council and doesn’t represent the Las Vegas Strip and its glittering megaresorts, Goodman promised to turn the job from one of cutting ribbons and settling neighborhood disputes into a position yielding real clout.

``I have a lot of ideas and I’ve never been hesitant to express myself,″ he said.

In sharp contrast, Adamsen is a 12-year city councilman who bills himself as ``Mr. Crossing Guard, Mr. Public Safety″ and touts his ability to work within the system to get things done.

``I’ve taken hits for three weeks and I’m still standing,″ Adamsen said. ``We’re wiping the slate clean now. I’ll debate him any time, any place and on any issue.″

Adamsen said the city had not yet returned a verdict in favor of Goodman. ``Fifty percent of the jury wasn’t convinced,″ he said.

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