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A dead Republican pimp has won a state assembly seat in Nevada

On Monday, the Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof was laid to rest
in a lipstick-red casket strewn with roses. A floral
arrangement approximating the silhouettes of two mating rabbits
marked his grave.

The next day, he was elected to the Nevada State Assembly.

Hof, the owner of several legal brothels including the Love
Ranch and the Moonlite BunnyRanch, died in his sleep at the age
of 72 on Oct. 16, four months after winning the Republican
primary for his district. On Tuesday, unofficial results from
the Nevada Secretary of State showed him beating Democrat Lesia
Romanov with 63 percent of the vote.

The Clark County Coroner’s Office has not yet determined the
cause of Hof’s death.

His victory, however unusual, was not unexpected. The sprawling
district is reliably conservative, and under state law,
candidates who are elected posthumously are replaced by another
member of their party. After Hof’s death, his campaign manager,
Chuck Muth, urged supporters to vote for him anyway, writing
that a victory would send a message to “the Carson City
‘establishment’ that tried to destroy him politically.”
Electing Hof would also prevent a reliably Republican seat from
falling into Democratic hands, he added.

The message seems to have worked. On Tuesday, when the Pahrump
Valley Times asked readers if they had voted for Hof or
Romanov, one Facebook commenter responded that he had voted for
Hof because “a dead Republican beats a female Democrat any
day.”

Dennis
Hof stands for a photograph inside the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in
Mound House, Carson City, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 20,
2013.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Another resident offered an alternative perspective. “I
wouldn’t have voted for him if he was alive, because he was NOT
a man of character,” she wrote. “However, I did vote for his
SEAT to be filled by a REPUBLICAN now that he is dead. I did
not want a democrat in his seat.”

Being elected to office from the grave is a fitting end to
Hof’s bizarre career and larger-than-life persona. He grew up
in a working-class family in Phoenix and sold timeshares before
buying his first brothel in 1993, then became a minor celebrity
when the BunnyRanch was featured in “Cathouse,” a reality TV
show that aired on HBO from 2005 to 2014. In 2015, NBA star
Lamar Odom was found unconscious at the Love Ranch, which only
added to Hof’s growing fame.

A dead Republican beats a female Democrat any day

Hof relentlessly promoted his businesses with publicity stunts,
helping a 21-year-old woman to auction off her virginity to the
highest bidder; launching a 2016 campaign titled “Hookers for
Hillary” that featured prostitutes who supported Hillary
Clinton; and inviting O.J. Simpson to work as a brothel greeter
after he was released on parole. In 2015, he published a memoir
titled, “The Art of the Pimp.”

Angered by statewide tax hikes, Hof unsuccessfully ran for
Nevada’s State Assembly as a libertarian in 2016. Running again
on the Republican ticket in 2018, he touted himself as an
advocate for small government and low taxes, and an “adamant
and unapologetic supporter” of gun rights. He supported an
initiative to ban sanctuary cities in Nevada, and argued that
the state legislature should not be exempt from public records
laws. Although he didn’t personally like abortion, he told
BuzzFeed, “I don’t think anybody should ever be able to dictate
to a woman how she’s gonna have to lead her life.”

In
this June 12, 2018, file photo, Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof,
second from right, celebrates with Heidi Fleiss, right, and
others after winning the primary election in Pahrump, Nev.

David
Montero/Los Angeles Times via AP

But the key to his success in the rural district was his stance
on groundwater. Hof advocated for conservation through a water
banking system, and argued that well owners should not be
forced to switch over to a water utility, writing on his
website that he would work to ensure that the residents’ water
rights were not “sacrificed to pave the way for large scale
developments.”

The brothel owner often referred to himself as “the Trump of
Pahrump,” a nickname that he said Roger Stone, an adviser to
then-candidate Donald Trump and an early supporter of Hof, had
come up with. (The Love Ranch is located north of Pahrump,
Nev.) After his primary upset in June, in which he beat a
three-term incumbent, Hof credited President Trump with making
it possible for an anti-establishment candidate like himself to
run for office.

“It’s all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus for
me,” he told the Associated Press. “He found the way, and I
jumped on it.”

It’s all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus
for me

During his campaign, Hof frequently compared himself to the
president, telling NPR that they both were rich, famous, had
“nerves of steel,” and liked attractive women. He campaigned on
a Trump-style slogan: “Make Nevada, Nevada Again.”

“I think people will resonate with that,” he told the Las Vegas
Sun in July. “Give us our freedom. We’re about low taxes,
drinking, gambling, girls and guns. That’s what this state was
founded on.”

In Nye County, where Trump won with a 42-point margin in 2016,
it was a winning strategy. One Hof supporter told the
Associated Press in June that he had voted for the brothel
owner because of the reaction that his victory would likely
trigger. “It’s the same reason I voted for Trump,” he said. “I
knew it would drive liberals crazy.”

Authorities
remove the body of Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof from the Love
Ranch brothel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Pahrump, Nev.

John Locher/AP
Photo

In another parallel to Trump, Hof was accused of sexual
harassment and sexual assault by multiple women. He denied the
reports, suggesting that they had been politically motivated.
“I’m rich. I’m famous,” he told NPR. “That attracts girls.” At
the time of his death, the Nevada Department of Public Safety
was investigating Hof for alleged sexual assault.

Establishment Republicans, such as Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada
Attorney General Adam Laxalt, and Gov. Brian Sandoval, refused
to endorse Hof, the Las Vegas Sun reported. But he received
support from the likes of evangelical pastor Victor Fuentes, a
Pahrump resident who told NPR, “What’s the difference between
one brothel owner and a liar before God? The ladies who work
for Dennis. They are not obligated. Anytime they can take off
and go.”

Responding to reports that Republicans planned to give him a
second-rate office at the state capitol if he won, Hof told
BuzzFeed in September that he would just borrow Motley Crue’s
tour bus and park it outside. “We’re gonna be serving liquor in
there from 9 in the morning ’til midnight,” he said. “I’m gonna
have qualified massage technicians – not the hookers – rubbing
your shoulders and your feet while I’m trying to sell you on my
idea, and if you agree with me I might take you out to the
Bunny Ranch and get you laid.”

But he never got that far. Hof was found dead hours after his
72nd birthday party, a campaign fundraiser which featured guest
appearances from porn star Ron Jeremy, anti-tax crusader Grover
Norquist, and former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, as well as a
phone call from Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

His victory was preceded by a memorial service over the weekend
that seemingly embodied Hof’s spirit. “The remembrances,
occasionally totally non-PC, were exactly what Dennis would
have loved,” Muth wrote on Twitter. “And so cool to have Tucker
Carlson join us!”

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