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7 November 2018

Nevada voters elect dead brothel-owner Dennis Hof to state assembly

The Cathouse star and owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel won by a comfortable margin despite having passed away in October.

By Nicky Woolf

Brothel-owner and reality TV star Dennis Hof – the self-styled “Trump of Pahrump” – has won his state assembly race in Nevada – despite having died several weeks before the election.

Hof, a colourful and often controversial figure, became famous when he starred in HBO’s Cathouse, a fly-on-the-wall reality TV show following him and several of the women who worked for him at his Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in northern Nevada, died in his sleep just after celebrating his 72nd birthday party in October with friends including porn star Ron Jeremy, disgraced former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and libertarian author Grover Norquist.

I had just interviewed Hof the night of his death for New Statesman America, and you can find the piece I wrote about the surreality of the experience here.

Because it was so close to election-day when he died, the ballots had already been printed and it was too late to remove his name from them. He won the Nye County state assembly race 11,116 votes to 5,021, according to the Los Angeles Times.

What happens next? It would normally be down to the county to pick his replacement, Nye County Commission chairman John Koenig told ThinkProgress, but this is complicated by the fact that the district Hof won encompasses several counties. Here’s what happens next:

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Each county commission will first sit down together and pick a name in a public forum, Koenig said. Three county chairmen will then meet and vote. The weight of their vote will be determined by the percentage of the district’s population that reside in their respective counties.

Hof’s post-mortem victory is a peculiar end to a peculiar story – not least because dying might have actually increased his chances of winning. Chuck Muth, his friend and former campaign manager, toldThinkProgress the week after his death that “There are a lot of Republicans who were uncomfortable voting for Dennis because of the nature of his business and they now know that he is not the one who will be serving.”

“They will feel much more comfortable casting the ballot for him knowing there will be another Republican to replace him,” Muth said.