Retired Poker Pro Leads ‘Grassroots Effort’ to Recall Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman

Posted on: May 9, 2020, 07:21h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2020, 12:14h.

Saturday marked the third day of an effort to recall Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and the initiative led by a retired professional poker player is already picking up steam.

Goodman Las Vegas Recall
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, shown speaking at a 2018 City Council meeting, may find herself facing a recall election if retired poker pro Doug Polk and others can secure enough signatures over the next three months. (Image: Airman 1st Class Haley Stevens/US Air Force)

Doug Polk posted on Twitter Saturday that he’s received emails from hundreds interested in either helping the campaign or signing the petition. If successful, a special election would take place challenging Goodman, whose calls for reopening casinos and other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic has created controversy and national headlines.

Last month, she called the way the state has handled the pandemic – with shutting down scores of businesses, including casinos – “total insanity.” She then doubled down on those remarks during a bizarre interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

At one point, the 81-year-old mayor, who is in the first year of her third and final term as mayor, told Cooper that she suggested Las Vegas could serve as a “control group” where businesses could open to the public. With the city getting the “placebo,” she said it would be up to businesses like restaurants to “figure it out” when it comes controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview Friday with, Polk said Goodman’s handling of the coronavirus crisis shows she’s flippant on serious matters and lacks the “critical thinking” needed to hold elected office.

The mayor of Las Vegas, sure they don’t have the power of, let’s say governor,” Polk said. “In a lot of ways they’re more of a figurehead. But at the same time, I think that figurehead should have a responsibility to protect their constituency.”

Polk and supporters have until Aug. 4 – 90 days from when the campaign started – to get 6,745 signatures. However, not just anyone can sign.

Not Just Any Signature Needed

First, let’s look at Las Vegas. To most people, Vegas is the Strip. But in actuality, most of the Strip resorts are not within the actual city limits. While 2.2 million live in the metropolitan area, only about 645,000 reside within the city.

On top of that, the Nevada law also stipulates the signatures not only must come from registered voters, but from those who voted in the election Goodman won. So that means all 6,745 signatures must come specifically from the 26,979 who voted in the April 2, 2019 primary.

In that election, Goodman, despite facing six challengers, cruised to victory. She won 83.5 percent of the vote. So, even if Polk gets each and every one of the 4,663 people who either voted for one of Goodman’s opponents or bypassed the race (assuming none of those voters have died since then), he must get 2,082 Goodman voters from last year to sign the recall petition.

Polk is still working an outreach plan to contact those voters from the 2019 election. But he told the initial reaction to the recall effort has been pleasantly surprising.

“We’re still getting everything rolling,” said Polk, who now runs online poker training site and posts YouTube videos. “We’re a small team. It’s a grassroots effort trying to make something happen, and we’re just trying to make sure we dot our i’s and cross all our t’s here.”

By Saturday morning, Polk posted on Twitter that the first 10 signatures are ready to be acquired and he was hoping to secure more during the day.

More information about the initiative is available at

Goodman’s only public response to the initiative came via Twitter on Thursday. “This is America,” she tweeted. “That’s his choice.”

One More Thing to Consider

As if the recall process isn’t challenging enough, Polk and supporters also have to get their signatures amid the COVID-19 crisis, where social distancing guidelines urge people to stay six feet or more away from others and fewer people are venturing out.

Not that this petition drive was suited for standing on street corners anyway, but it does add some wrinkles for Polk. When he filed his paperwork with the Nevada Secretary of State this past week, staffers told him petition guidelines remain the same, even with the ongoing pandemic.

So, when Polk or supporters acquire signatures, they will wear gloves, use sanitizer, and practice social distancing.

“If we felt we couldn’t do it in a safe way, we wouldn’t do it,” Polk said. “Because if we were doing it in a non-safe way, we’re sort of defeating the entire purpose of what we originally started to do, right?”