Dead brothel owner wins seat in Ne­vada state As­sem­bly

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By David Mon­tero

LAS VE­GAS — Even in death, Den­nis Hof re­mains larger than life.

The de­ceased brothel owner who was elected to a state As­sem­bly seat was one of the few bright spots for the Ne­vada Repub­li­can Party on Elec­tion Day — a drop of red in a state that has been trend­ing blue over the last decade.

Repub­li­can Adam Lax­alt lost his gu­ber­na­to­rial bid to Demo­crat Steve Siso­lak. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller lost his re­elec­tion ef­fort to Demo­crat Jacky Rosen.

Democrats main­tained their con­trol of both cham­bers of Ne­vada’s state Leg­is­la­ture. Mean­while, women ap­pear to be on the verge of cap­tur­ing a ma­jor­ity of the seats in the As­sem­bly.

“It was not a good night for Repub­li­cans,” Eric Herzik, po­lit­i­cal sci­ence chair at the Univer­sity of Ne­vada, Reno. “If I’m the Repub­li­can Party, I have wor­ries after these re­sults.”

Ne­vada Demo­cratic Party Chair­man Wil­liam McCurdy is­sued a state­ment on the re­sults, say­ing they were the fruits of a ro­bust ground game en­er­gized by two years of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and a GOP-con­trolled Congress.

“These can­di­dates weren’t the only thing on the bal­lot this elec­tion — ev­ery­thing we hold dear as Ne­vadans and Amer­i­cans was on the line,” McCurdy said. “Democrats have made it clear that we are the party that fights for work­ing fam­i­lies and for bet­ter eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and equal­ity for all Ne­vadans.”

The Hof race had be­come a na­tional cu­rios­ity, and Herzik said that even if he were alive, he prob­a­bly wouldn’t have had to sweat out the re­sults. Hof cruised to vic­tory Tues­day in his As­sem­bly race — 21 days after he died — against his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Le­sia Ro­manov.

The vic­tory also came after a some­times-rau­cous me­mo­rial ser­vice over the week­end that fea­tured male porn star Ron Jeremy, for­mer Hol­ly­wood madam Heidi Fleiss and com­edy writer Bob Zmuda.

The 72-year-old was found dead on Oct. 16 at Love Ranch, his brothel just out­side the city of Pahrump, after be­ing found un­re­spon­sive by Jeremy after a cam­paign event that fea­tured an ap­pear­ance by Ari­zona’s for­mer Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio. The Clark County coro­ner’s of­fice has not re­leased a cause of death.

Hof ’s win wasn’t a huge sur­prise in his heav­ily Repub­li­can district that stretches over three coun­ties — the largest of which is Nye County — and went for Trump in 2016 by a wide mar­gin.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ne­vada sec­re­tary of state, a Hof vic­tory en­sures that the state As­sem­bly seat will re­main in Repub­li­can hands, as the three county com­mis­sion­ers will con­vene and select a re­place­ment from the GOP. Herzik said that prob­a­bly helped so­lid­ify the seat for Repub­li­cans and gave com­fort to those who may have felt un­easy about elect­ing a brothel owner.

On Wed­nes­day, Ro­manov posted on her Face­book page: “A huge ‘Thank You’ to all my sup­port­ers, friends and fam­ily. I will al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate your sup­port and ef­fort through this crazy, twisted race!”

Chuck Muth, Hof ’s cam­paign chair­man, told a crowd of about 500 at the me­mo­rial ser­vice over the week­end that he ex­pected a big win over Ro­manov. When he saw the Nye County unof­fi­cial num­bers — which showed Hof with 11,116 votes and Ro­manov with 5,012 — he was happy but cau­tious.

“I feel pretty good, but I won’t be com­pletely sat­is­fied un­til it’s of­fi­cial,” he said.

By Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Muth seemed ready to ac­cept the unof­fi­cial re­sults show­ing Hof de­feat­ing Ro­manov by al­most a 2-to-1 mar­gin.

“Den­nis was the Trump of Pahrump in the pri­mary & Moses in the general; he didn’t make it to the promised land with us,” Muth wrote on Twit­ter. “But his cam­paign vic­tory taught three big les­sons for Repub­li­cans: Don’t raise taxes, don’t be bor­ing and don’t be wishy-washy.”

Muth was joined by friends of Hof at one of the brothel owner’s restau­rants in north­ern Ne­vada for a vic­tory party Tues­day. He said some of the sex work­ers at the brothel took some time off to join the party. But as re­sults were slow in com­ing be­cause of long lines at polling places in Washoe and Clark coun­ties, Muth said the crowd of 100 had thinned con­sid­er­ably.

Hof ’s win capped an im­prob­a­ble rise for the can­di­date who first made a run for of­fice two years ago as a Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date for the As­sem­bly. He was able to trade in on his celebrity from writ­ing a book ti­tled “The Art of the Pimp” and star­ring in the re­al­ity tele­vi­sion show “Cathouse” on HBO.

But he still lost to the Repub­li­can, James Os­car­son.

Hof switched to the Repub­li­can Party after Trump’s win and used the pres­i­dent’s tone and style to de­feat Os­car­son in the pri­mary. He dubbed him­self the “Trump of Pahrump” and won the back­ing of Nye County Repub­li­can lead­ers.

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