Deceased brothel owner Dennis Hof won a seat in the Nevada state legislature on Tuesday, handily defeating his living Democratic opponent Lesia Romanov. Labelling himself the “Trump of Pahrump,” the pimp, former reality star and accused sexual abuser ran a controversial campaign to win the state’s Republican-leaning 36th assembly district. After besting incumbent James Oscarson in the primary, Hof was expected to cruise to victory Tuesday night. But with two weeks to go until the election, porn star Ron Jeremy found him dead in a suite at his Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada. They had been celebrating Hof’s 72nd birthday the night before with rapper Flavor Flav and others.
According to the Nevada Appeal, Hof took home 68.2 percent of the vote on Tuesday, compared to Romanov’s 31 percent. He won down the ballot, as well. An initiative that would have banned brothels in Lyon County, which lies in Hof’s 36th assembly district, was crushed. As of Wednesday morning, over 16,000 residents voted against the initiative, versus less than 4,000 who voted in favor of it. All of Lyon County’s brothels belonged to the deceased state assembly candidate.
Though pundits have long believed death to be one of the quickest ways to sink a campaign for office, conventional wisdom doesn’t have much of a foothold in southern Nevada. Despite his death, Hof was still expected to win the district easily. Nevada state law holds that if a deceased candidate wins an election, the commissions of the counties within their district will appoint someone of the same political party to fill the seat. There are more than twice as many registered Republicans living in the 36th assembly district than there are registered Democrats, and conservative voters could safely vote for Hof knowing it would prevent liberal representation in the state legislature.
The question now is who will fill Hof’s seat. Many believe the incumbent Oscarson to be the frontrunner, but this isn’t likely to sit well with those who voted for Hof, who derided Oscarson as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). “If that happens, there’s going to be torches and pitchforks in the street,” Hof campaign manager Chuck Muth explained to Rolling Stone. “The voters of that district will never stand for that. It’s definitely not what Dennis would have wanted and it’s certainly not what the voters who voted in the primary would have wanted.”
Though Hof bested Romanov, it wasn’t a great night for Nevada Republicans. Democrats easily held onto their majority in the state legislature, and could obtain a two-thirds supermajority if they are able to hold onto their leads in two races that are currently too close to call. Not only would the two victories give Democrats a supermajority, it would mean women would occupy a majority of the state legislature seats for the first time in Nevada’s history.
Democrat Jacky Rosen also defeated Republican incumbent Dean Heller to represent Nevada in the U.S. Senate. Though Heller once claimed to be “99 percent against Trump,” he took a different approach while campaigning against Rosen. “Now, Mr. President, you know a little bit about gold,” Heller gushed while standing next to the president during a rally in October. “In fact, I think everything you touch turns to gold.” Fearing his salacious reputation, Heller refused to support Hof in his campaign for state assembly. Though as Tuesday’s result showed, it didn’t even matter.