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VICTORY IN DEATH

Brothel owner Dennis Hof won two elections in Nevada three weeks after his death

Reuters/Steve Marcus
Hof in happier days
By Allison Schrager
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

If he were alive, last night would have been a great one for Dennis Hof. Even though he’s been dead for nearly three weeks, the infamous brothel owner won his election for Nevada’s 36th Assembly District in the US midterm elections by more than 7,000 votes. The district contains Nye county, where two of the brothels he owned are located.

Hof liked to call himself the Trump of Pahrump (a town in Nye County). Even after he died, he was considered a favorite for the seat, running on a campaign which promised lower taxes and less government interference in the lives of Nevada voters.

Nevada law requires the commissioner of the county to replace a deceased candidate with someone of the same party. Republicans thought their chance of winning the seat would increase if they kept Hof on the ballot and replaced him with a suitable Republican after the vote (this tactic has been employed before in US elections).

The election and Hof’s death were not the only drama at his brothels. His estranged family are expected to contest the ownership of his brothels passing to his long-time partner Madam Suzette.

In addition, four of his brothels, including the infamous Bunny Ranch, faced the threat of closure from a referendum to end legalized prostitution in Northern Nevada’s Lyon county. But the initiative was soundly defeated, with 75% of voters opting to keep the brothels open. Hof had long been an advocate for legalized prostitution, and sex workers Alice Little and Ruby Rae, who worked for Hof when he was alive, continued to champion this cause after his death.

Tuesday night’s two victories show Nevada voters, or at least those in the counties where Hof owned brothels, came out to uphold his legacy. Or perhaps, they voted to keep a source of tax revenue and a Republican in the state assembly. Either way, the outcome was a bittersweet victory for his friends and supporters.

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