LAS VEGAS — Dennis Hof doesn’t lack for name recognition in his run for Nevada Assembly. He starred in an HBO reality series called “Cathouse” and relished the spotlight when NBA player Lamar Odom suffered a medical episode during a stay at a legal brothel Hof owned.
But the straight-laced incumbent he’s challenging is raising doubts about Hof’s suitability for office, including whether the man who grabbed headlines when his working girls declared themselves “Hookers for Hillary” is fit to serve and whether Hof, a registered Libertarian, even lives in the rural district he seeks to represent.
Two-term Republican James Oscarson said he’s not going to mount a residency challenge against Hof in court because he wants voters in the district to have a meaningful choice. “It’s important that you live there, it’s important that you participate, it’s important that you’re accessible to your constituents,” he said.
The wealthy Hof is self-funding his campaign, and attacks Oscarson as “a high-priced political prostitute” who voted in favor of a new Commerce Tax last year in exchange for campaign contributions. That could play well in the fiscally conservative district, where Oscarson won by slim margins in a crowded Republican primary.
“Do I understand politics? No,” Hof said. “I want to be a businessman who can make change without owing anybody anything.”
Oscarson, who said Nevada’s legal prostitution is “not my cup of tea,” said contributions allow him to run a good campaign and defeat Hof. He defends his vote for taxes as a way to bring more money to Nevada’s bottom-ranked school system, especially in struggling rural schools.
“I didn’t do anything more than what I thought was best for our constituents,” he said.
Hof, whose driver’s license and filing paperwork list the same Pahrump address as his brothel Love Ranch, contends he lives in an adjacent house. His campaign Twitter account places him in Amargosa Valley, which is also in the district, but his personal Twitter account and campaign finance paperwork list locations outside the district.
Hof, who tweets pornographic photos to his 20,000 Twitter followers, is adopting a more sanitized persona for his campaign. He doesn’t foresee bringing prostitutes with him on the campaign trail, and the biography on his website focuses on Hof’s early ventures as a gas station proprietor before directing readers to buy his book, “The Art of the Pimp.”
Oscarson says Hof is making of farce of the Assembly race.
“I think this is about garnering some publicity for himself and for the businesses that he represents,” Oscarson said. “Unfortunately, it’s going to be done at the expense of the voters in (Assembly District 36).”
Hof acknowledges that his campaign might look like a stunt. After all, he brought a prostitute Caressa Kisses along with him to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office when he filed for office this spring.
“I do things to get media attention. That’s what I do,” Hof said. “But when they see the billboards and when they get the mailers, they’re going to understand that I’m passionate about the Commerce Tax.”