Casino-backed loser in XGR race still undecided on recount

CARSON CITY - The casino-backed challenger who narrowly lost a primary election battle to the resorts' nemesis, veteran state Sen. Joe Neal, said Thursday he's still undecided on a recount bid.

Las Vegas lawyer Uri Clinton said he won't have the information he needs to make an informed decision until after a vote canvass next Tuesday by the Clark County Commission.

''Following the canvass, we will review all the information, consult with legal counsel and make a final determination,'' Clinton said in a press release.

Clinton's adviser, Tom Letizia, said he was almost positive that Clinton would seek a recount of the race that he lost Tuesday by just a handful of votes.

Neal needed half the votes plus one to claim a final victory in the primary voting and avoid a November general election runoff with Clinton. Final returns showed 4,055 votes were cast, and Neal got 2,034 - barely over the halfway point of 2,028. Clinton got 1,820 and a third candidate, Christopher Montanez, got 201.

Neal's squeaker victory, stemming in part from his ''Unbossed and Unbought'' campaign motto that suggested Clinton was both, freed him to push his fight to boost casino taxes.

''This is going to take the pressure off,'' Neal said. ''It frees me up to get out there and collect signatures'' for the casino tax plan.

To force the 2001 Legislature to consider the tax hike proposal, Neal must get the signatures of at least 44,009 registered voters by Nov. 14. That's equal to 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous election.

But he would have had a tough time getting the signatures and at the same time campaigning between now and the Nov. 7 general election for re-election to the state Senate seat he has held since 1972.

Neal said that in addition to the casino tax effort he wants to continue working on major legislative issues such as utility deregulation - approved by the 1999 Legislature but stalled this year partly because of concerns about high costs to consumers.

Clinton raised more money than Neal - $55,211 to Neal's $50,507, with more than half of his money coming from casinos.

But Clinton said he didn't get into the state Senate contest to retaliate against Neal for his casino-taxing efforts. He said he advocates more health care benefits for seniors and better schools for children - especially for children in Neal's district.

''We've got four of the worst schools in Nevada in this district,'' Clinton said. ''We've got to fight to change these things. These are very important issues that have to be addressed.''


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