The Slatest

Meet the Republican Party’s Newest Rising Star: a Nevada Brothel Owner Who’s Been Dead for Three Weeks

Cami Parker and Bunny Ranch founder Dennis Hof in 2011.
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In Carson City, Nevada, residents heard the news from the Nevada Appeal: the “Trump of Pahrump” was headed to the state Assembly. In Las Vegas, casino workers struggled to comprehend that the rising politician whose face was all over the TV really was the same man who had been found dead in a brothel more than three weeks ago. And at the Happy Homestead Cemetery in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, the Republican Party’s newest rising star was trying to make sense of it all.

On Tuesday, Dennis Hof, whose résumé up to now included “brothel owner,” “star of an HBO series about brothels,” “author of an autobiography about brothels,” and “America’s Pimpmaster General,” stunned the political establishment by defeating Lesia Romanov for a seat in the Nevada Assembly. It’s the latest shock in an electrifying year for the entrepreneur-turned-politician: Five months ago he astounded Nevada’s Republican Party by defeating three-term incumbent James Oscarson in the primary. Then, on Oct. 16, he shocked the world again, throwing a birthday party attended by political heavyweights like Joe Arpaio, Grover Norquist, and Ron Jeremy, and then dying. It was the kind of pivot hardly anyone has attempted since Mel Carnahan’s hard-fought 2000 senatorial campaign—the consultant class has long argued that the living make better candidates—but it paid off. Now Nevada Republicans are scrambling to adjust to the new reality.

Hof appeared to be handling his rise to the national political stage with aplomb, riding out the attention in a closed-to-the-press candy apple red coffin six feet underground. There, forensic political analysts say, he is celebrating his victory by allowing the forces of gravity to slowly pool embalming fluid in the lower parts of his body. Hof had no comment on the election results, his plans for the future, or anything at all, but in a summer interview with the Las Vegas Sun, he explained that Donald Trump was the inspiration for his decidedly unconventional approach to politics:

Am I riding the Trump train? Hell yes I am. He blazed the trail for me. I would have never won the primary without what Donald Trump did. He carved a new dimension into the political realm, and I’m one of the beneficiaries of it.

But despite the straight line between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Hof’s visionary strategy of convincing elderly Republicans to vote for actual corpses, the party’s political establishment seems to be attempting to keep their newest star under wraps. The Nye County Commission is reportedly planning to appoint another, living Republican to take Hof’s seat, shamefully ignoring the clearly expressed wishes of their constituents to be represented in the state Assembly by a dead brothel owner. It is time for Americans of all parties to demand that Hof be seated in the Nevada Assembly. Otherwise, this will be how democracy dies: at a brothel, after a birthday party, with Ron Jeremy.