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Nevada brothel owner says he might run for U.S. Senate

Dennis Hof, easily the most well-known pimp in Nevada, has joined the Libertarian Party and said Wednesday he’s weighing a run for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Hof, the owner of seven legal brothels, including the well-known Moonlite Bunny Ranch in the Silver State, says he has formed an exploratory committee to look into a potential run as a Libertarian candidate.

Hof, 68, moved to Nevada from Phoenix in 1975, operating gas stations before venturing into the brothel business in 1992. The holder of more brothel licenses than anyone else in Nevada, Hof is media savvy and open about his business empire, which stretches from Lyon County to Nye County.

Hof bills himself as someone who would bring to the office the perspective of an independent businessman who isn’t beholden to special interests. He said he became disillusioned with elected officials after watching the state Legislature pass a $1.4 billion tax package this session after voters in November rejected a margins tax.

“I don’t owe anybody anything,” Hof said, adding he had been an independent. “I’m not going to be swayed by people that support these politicians.”

Hof already has name recognition going for him as a star of the HBO’s late-night reality show “Cathouse.” He also noted he’s been vetted and background-checked plenty of times already as an applicant for brothel licenses.

“My life’s an open book,” said Hof, who titled his memoir “The Art of the Pimp.” “The only thing that they can say about me is, ‘You eat too much and you’ve slept with a lot of girls.’”

Nevada is the only state with legal brothels. Brothels are licensed by counties and not allowed in Clark County under state law. Other counties besides Clark are allowed under the law to decide if they want brothels and some, including Washoe County, Carson City and Lincoln County, don’t permit brothels.

“They might not like what I do, but my business is legal,” Hof said of those who disagree with his trade. “I’ve got a whole lot of common sense and it’s time we get somebody that’s not one of these career politicians.”

Hof said he doesn’t know when he’ll make a final decision on the Senate race.

Other candidates running for Reid’s seat, up for election in November 2016, include Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, a former Nevada attorney general, and U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

“We’re thrilled to have him on board,” said Brett Pojunis, chairman of the Nevada Libertarian Party. “He sounds like he’s dead serious about doing this.”

Pojunis said Hof’s celebrity, business background and social media presence are all helpful. He estimated that the party has 12,000 to 13,000 registered voters in Nevada, but plans to register more voters.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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