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Battle of the stage managers

Call it the clash of the titans.

Not the candidates running for Las Vegas mayor: The people running the candidates running for Las Vegas mayor.

The list of political consultants working for top candidates in the race is a roster of some of the top political talent in Nevada, and it promises to make the truncated municipal election very lively.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani’s campaign is being run by her husband, Gary Gray, a longtime successful veteran of Nevada campaigns. (In addition to helping his wife win repeated terms in the Assembly and on the commission, Gray consulted on the successful races of Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins and Nevada Supreme Court Justice Kris Pickering. Pickering dismissed Gray after he allegedly asked her to recuse herself from hearing some eminent domain cases in exchange for contributions.)

The mayoral contest will be a grudge match of sorts for Gray. He’s facing off with Jim Ferrence, the man who ran ex-Clark County Commissioner Myrna Williams’s unsuccessful bid for re-election against Giunchigliani in 2006.

In the ultra-small world of Nevada politics, Ferrence now represents Giunchigliani colleague Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown in the mayor’s race. And it gets even smaller when you consider Ferrence worked on every one of Oscar Goodman’s mayoral campaigns, in 1999, 2003 and 2007. In fact, Ferrence takes credit for floating the idea of a Carolyn Goodman candidacy years ago, a race he would likely have run if both Goodmans hadn’t insisted to him that they were done with politics. (Carolyn Goodman said she mulled the contest for months before finally making up her mind during the last week of the filing period.)

“It’s my idea in the first place,” Ferrence says. “Carolyn Goodman is the one person who could beat Oscar Goodman.” The city is probably better for not having to witness that particular standoff.

Ferrence has also won with Secretary of State Ross Miller, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Clark County Commissioners Susan Brager, Mary Beth Scow and Steve Sisolak.)

In another ironic, small-world twist, Carolyn Goodman campaign manager Bradley Mayer is a protégé of Ferrence. Mayer cut his teeth with Ferrence as a volunteer on the 2002 county commission campaign of Mark James.

Carolyn Goodman also boasts help from veteran adman Tom Letizia, who has worked on Oscar Goodman’s campaigns since the first one in 1999. And she’s getting some support from ex-Las Vegas Councilman Michael Mack, whom Goodman got appointed in a bid to keep control of the city council in 1999. (Mack, whose intellect Oscar Goodman once described in colorful but unflattering terms, ultimately opted not to run again after ethics controversies scarred his council tenure.)  

Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross has engaged Steve Redlinger, a veteran of Democratic politics, to lead his campaign team. Redlinger has served as a spokesman for the Las Vegas Building and Construction Trades Council, which Ross once led. He’s also done fundraising for Democratic candidates ranging from President Barack Obama to state Treasurer Kate Marshall to (small world, again) Giunchigliani.

Also on Ross’s team is Achim Bergmann, who ran ex-Clark County Commissioner Dario Herrera’s unsuccessful 2004 challenge to then-Congressman Jon Porter. Bergmann is now Washington director of The Baughman Co.

Finally, Ryan Erwin, the veteran Republican strategist, is running businessman Victor Chaltiel’s bid. Erwin has run statewide campaigns (Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki), Nevada operations for national campaigns (Mitt Romney, 2008), and U.S. Rep. Joe Heck’s successful bid last year against Congresswoman Dina Titus.

Erwin even teamed up with Gray on Pickering’s Supreme Court race, which goes to prove, once more, that Nevada’s political world is a small one after all.


Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist, and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SteveSebelius or reach him at 387-5296 or at ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.

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