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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Frenchman fails in bid to become Las Vegas mayor

It was so nearly the sort or stuff that the American Dream is made of; a Frenchman bidding to become mayor of a major US city.

But in spite of spending millions of his own personal fortune, 69-year-old Victor Chaltiel failed to make it past Tuesday's primary to find a successor to the incumbent mayor, Oscar Goodman, finishing fourth with 14 per cent of the vote.

Victor Chaltiel (screenshot from TV spot)

Voters chose Goodman's wife, Carolyn and a Clark County Commissioner, Chris Giunchigliani, will to head-to-head in June's run-off.

He's not an Englishman in New York but a Frenchman in Las Vegas, and Victor Chaltiel wanted to be mayor of Las Vegas.

The self-made businessman arrived in the States almost 40 years ago, but from the way he speaks you wouldn't know it.

His accent is - to say the very least - almost the caricature of a Frenchman speaking English.

Indeed even Chaltiel had doubts about how he would come across when he first considered standing. But he brushed them aside on the advice of a friend.

"At first I thought my accent would be an obstacle," he told Agence France Presse.

"But an American friend reassured me. He said, 'Victor, let me ask you a question. In all your 38 years in the United States, has your accent ever prevented you from succeeding and making your fortune?' Never. I responded. 'There you go,' he replied. 'You have your response'."

As the French national radio station Europe 1 reported, Chaltiel was virtually unknown when he entered the race and financed his campaign using the personal fortune he has accumulated over the years - to the tune of $1.4 million.

Television spots stressed his experience as a "businessman rather than a politician" and that unlike "professional" politicians, unwilling or unable to give up all the trappings that go with elected office, Chaltiel was willing and able to finance his own campaign himself and to be governed by a businessman would change everything for Las Vegas residents.

"I speak differently, I think differently, I work differently," he said in one spot, emphasising that over the years he had helped build businesses and create jobs.

"We are all different, but we all have one thing in common. We all want to see our city shine again."

Voters though didn't quite see thing that same way as Chaltiel, and in the end plumped for what they knew best in the shape of Goodman and Giunchigliani.

In spite of that, one thing's for sure though, Chaltiel's hand-kissing, heavily accented presence brought more than a smile to many on both sides of the Pond - and who knows, perhaps he'll try again.


Anonymous said...

I saw an add where Victor C. made the "V" victory sign, except he didn't quite do it with the palm of the hand extending forward. Instead, it was a proper "two-finger f... you" sign. Do you think that it had something to do with his failure at making it to the final round of this election?

Anonymous said...

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