Endorsing Dead People Is a Shrewd Political Strategy

On Tuesday night, a man dubbed “America’s most famous pimp” was elected to Nevada’s state assembly, despite owning several brothels, facing an investigation into rape allegations, and also being dead.

In the lead-up to the election, Dennis Hof explicitly fashioned himself after President Donald Trump. He vowed to “make Nevada Nevada again,” and beat a three-term incumbent in a June primary with an off-message strategy that advocated for educating teens about oral sex over restricting access to abortions. All of which is to say, Hof was a thorn in the side of the Nevada Republican establishment. Until last month, when he died in his sleep of unknown causes and became the party’s best shot at holding on to the state-assembly seat in a deep-red district.

After Hof won his primary this summer, the Nevada Assembly Republican Caucus declined to endorse or support any candidate in his race. Dean Heller, one of the U.S. senators from Nevada, and several other prominent Republicans were quick to denounce Hof. But the day after Hof was found dead in his brothel, The Nevada Independent reported that the state GOP had reversed course and had begun planning a campaign to ensure the district’s voters voted for the late candidate anyway—all so that the seat was sure to remain in Republican hands.

Under Nevada law, the responsibility of replacing a deceased winning candidate falls to the commissioners of the county or counties the candidate was elected to represent. The replacement must be of the same political party as the winner. By a strange turn of events, then, Nevada Republicans seem to have gotten the best of both worlds: A brash candidate did the work of motivating the base and attracting press coverage to what would have otherwise most likely been an unremarkable local election, but legislators themselves will never have to deal with the candidate’s unbecoming ways in Carson City.

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