Recall Effort Against Las Vegas Mayor Goodman Stopped as Coronavirus Complicates Petition Drive

Posted on: July 1, 2020, 11:54h. 

Last updated on: July 2, 2020, 09:57h.

The leader of the effort to oust Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (D) announced the suspension of the campaign Wednesday, citing complications brought on by the coronavirus to the petition drive.

Goodman Recall
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, seen here in 2018 talking with US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, has apparently survived a recall effort against her. The recall effort was in response to some of her actions during the COVID-19 crisis. (Image: HUD)

Initially, retired poker pro Doug Polk had until next month to gather 6,745 signatures from the voters who participated in last year’s mayoral election to trigger a recall election. In an email Wednesday, Polk said his group delayed the petition drive in an effort to time a recall election with the Nov. 2 general election.

“However, as we waited for a more favorable date, we learned a few things,” Polk said in an email to supporters.

Goodman is in her third and final term as the city’s mayor. She succeeded her husband, Oscar, who served in the role from 1999 to 2011.

Hurdles Too Steep to Overcome

Polk outlined four issues that hindered recall efforts. Chief among them, the group’s plan to gather signatures via a mail-in campaign did not meet legal requirements.

In other words, our only option is to gather signatures in person during the pandemic, and the city would not make an exception,” he said.

According to Polk, the average age of the nearly 27,000 voters who cast a ballot in last year’s mayoral race was older than 80. Thus, a face-to-face signing campaign would have put some of the city’s most vulnerable residents at risk, especially with the rapid increase in new cases over the past week.

Even without the coronavirus, the effort to recall Goodman faced some challenges. Nevada’s recall law limits only those who voted in the election in question to sign the petition. Goodman won last year’s election with 83.5 percent of the vote. That meant the campaign needed to get at least 2,082 people who voted for Goodman to call for an election challenging her.

Geography also was an issue. While most people associate Las Vegas with the Strip, most of the casino resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard are actually outside of the city limits. While the region has a population of more than 2 million, the city Goodman leads has a population of less than 650,000.

COVID-19 Triggered Recall Initiative

The virus, or rather Goodman’s response to it, happened to be the reason why Polk started the effort two months ago. The week before he started the recall, the 81-year-old Independent took part in what became a combative interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

At one point in the exchange with Cooper, she said she wanted to offer Las Vegas as a “control group” to see what would happen if a city didn’t shut down its nonessential businesses during the pandemic.

Prior to that, Goodman made several public statements critical of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his decision to close casinos. At one city council meeting, she called Sisolak’s statewide shutdown order “total insanity.”

When Polk started the petition campaign, he did so primarily because he thought Goodman lacked the leadership qualities the city needed during the time of crisis.

“While I am disappointed, I stand by my reason for the recall: That the citizens of Las Vegas deserve better than to be a control group in Carolyn Goodman’s experiment,” he said.