November 23, 1940 – March 9, 2018
Longtime Nevada campaign manager Kent Oram, political adviser to future governors, county commissioners, sheriffs and judges over more than three decades, died Friday, his family said.
Oram died of congestive heart failure at his Las Vegas home. He was 77.
Over a span of 36 years, Richard Kent Oram consulted on or directly managed more than 100 campaigns for city, county and statewide office, his family said.
He was known for his tenacious work ethic.
“Anything he ever did, he was the best,” said Marilyn Plise, his assistant for nearly 40 years.
Past clients point to Oram as the key to their success. The message from friends was a refrain: “Without Kent, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Oram was born Nov. 23, 1940, in Hammond, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University with a combined bachelor’s degree in history and political science, his family said. He served with the U.S. Air Force, from which he was honorably discharged.
He founded Oram, Ingram & Zurawski Advertising Inc., which was incorporated in 1973, according to information provided by the family. He had wide experience in marketing and advertising and specialized in political campaign management and consulting, as well as corporate consulting, the family said. On the corporate side, he worked with local, regional, national and international clients, among them Hilton Hotels, Becker Gaming and Becker Homes, Coach USA, R&R Partners, the American Nuclear Energy Council and Hickory Farms of Ohio.
Oram was guided by a strong sense of ethics and morals, said former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, a close friend and former client. Oram ran campaigns for various levels of political office, but focused on the governor’s and sheriff’s races because he cared deeply about the safety of Nevadans and Clark County residents, Young said.
“He was on your team because he believed in you. And if you had Kent Oram believing in you and on your side, you felt invincible,” he said.
‘You don’t replace a Kent Oram’
Oram never strayed from his sense of what was right, and he would do anything in his power to defeat people who cut corners, Young said.
He called his friend a political genius and a savant. “He was probably the strongest political person or influencer in the state of Nevada,” he said.
Young met Oram in 1986. His first impression?
“This man is really intense,” Young said.
But Oram and Young grew close. Oram would lend an ear and offer help for any issue a friend could encounter, Young said.
When Young decided he would consider running for sheriff, Oram was one of his first calls.
“His first words were, ‘You know, Bill, I was expecting your call,’” Young said.
“Why were you expecting my call, Kent?” Young asked.
“I just knew,” Oram replied.
Young’s successor, Doug Gillespie, attributed his success as a candidate and as Clark County sheriff to Oram. The longtime consultant not only knew how to run a campaign but also understood the ins and outs of being sheriff, Gillespie said.
During Gillespie’s campaign for office, Oram would challenge the former sheriff during debate preparations by quickly asking follow-up questions or offering other perspectives.
Oram liked to portray himself as “gruff,” the former sheriff said, but he had a soft, compassionate side the public may not have seen. Seven officers died during Gillespie’s tenure as sheriff, and Oram was always one of the first to call and check on how the sheriff was doing.
“You don’t replace a Kent Oram,” Gillespie said.
Among the many other campaigns Oram helped guide were those of future governors Brian Sandoval, Kenny Guinn and Bob Miller; Clark County sheriffs Joe Lombardo, Jerry Keller and John Moran; and Las Vegas Mayors Oscar Goodman and Ron Lurie.
He also managed several bond issues, including flood control initiatives, firefighter bond issues and a ballot proposition to put more cops on the street.
A full life
Over his 77 years, Oram mastered martial arts, handgun shooting, baseball, bowling and poker, friends and family said. He was an avid collector, too, of coins, toy trains, comic books, movie posters and baseball cards.
His goal was always to make his wife proud, son Eric Oram said. He had a sense of how things should be done, his son said, and he worked tirelessly to make sure they got done the right way.
“He measured his success on how much love he had from his family. And rightfully, he considered himself the richest man in the world,” the family said in a statement.
Outside of politics, Oram worked with local, national and international corporations as a consultant.
His family said he wrote and produced more than 1,000 television and radio commercials, and wrote songs for many of his corporate clients. He retired in June.
During his life, he received multiple honors, including the Key to the city of Las Vegas and the Clark County Branding Iron.
“Next to my own father, I don’t think I talked to or admired a man more than Kent,” Young said.
Oram is survived by his wife of 55 years, Becky; children, Lisa Hunt, Eric Oram and Andrea Moreen; four grandchildren; and his brother, Thomas Oram.
In Lieu of Flowers Please make a donation in his name to The Nathan Adelson Hospice4141 Swenson St, Las Vegas, NV 89119 (702) 733-0320. www.nah.org
Celebration of Life
Palm Cheyenne Mortuary
7400 West Cheyenne Avenue