weather icon Clear

Dennis Hof, deceased brothel owner, wins Nevada Assembly race

Updated November 7, 2018 - 1:28 am

Democrat Lesia Romanov was the only candidate with a pulse in the race for Assembly District 36, but apparently that wasn’t enough to defeat deceased brothel owner Dennis Hof.

Based on partial returns late Tuesday night, it appeared voters in the rural, heavily Republican district chose to elect someone no longer living rather than let the seat turn blue.

“It will be another footnote in Nevada history: We voted for a dead man,” predicted Eric Herzik, chair of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Elsewhere, though, Democrats still had a chance to expanding their hold on the Assembly enough to secure a supermajority.

As of 11 p.m., Democrats had won or were on their way to winning 27 of the 42 seats, with two decisive races in Assembly districts 4 and 37 still too close to call. A Democratic victory in one of those races would result in a supermajority. The Democrats last won control of two-thirds of the seats in the Assembly during the blue wave of 2008 that swept President Barack Obama into office.

Twenty-seven of the 28 incumbents who were up for re-election from both parties also appeared poised for victory late Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, women were on the cusp of making history in the Assembly, as 20 female candidates were leading in the early returns. If all of them could hold on and be joined by two more female contenders, it would mark the first time that a majority of the chamber would be held by women.

It’s unclear who will end up representing District 36, where there are nearly 8,500 more Republicans than Democrats on the active-voter registration rolls.

Hof was the leading contender there when he was found dead in bed at his Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, just north of Pahrump, on Oct. 16.

Four months earlier, the self-described “Trump of Pahrump” made national news when he upset incumbent Assemblyman James Oscarson in a bitter primary contest, only to see his candidacy denounced by top party leaders, including Sen. Dean Heller, Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and the Assembly Republican Caucus.

Hof was widely expected to win anyway, but some experts said dying only improved his chances.

“I think Hof would have won alive,” Herzik said, but his death made him palatable to some squeamish GOP voters because it turned him into “the Republican placeholder” on the ballot.

Assuming Hof is officially declared the winner, the seat will be declared vacant, and the process will start to appoint his replacement.

According to Wayne Thorley, who oversees elections at the Nevada secretary of state’s office, the commissioners in the three counties included in District 36 — Clark, Lincoln and Nye — will meet separately to nominate one candidate each. Then the three county commissions will hold a joint meeting to vote on which of the three candidates to appoint.

Nye County will hold the most sway, as the commissioners’ votes will be weighted based on the number of precincts in each county.

Whoever the commissions select will be seated well before the start of the legislative session next year.

It sounds terrible, Herzik said, but “by dying, (Hof) solved an embarrassing situation for Republicans in the Legislature.”

Before his death, some GOP lawmakers were threatening not caucus with him if he was elected.

“It’s all moot now,” Herzik said.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)