EDITORIAL: When realities shift, positions must change

(Vern Robison | Moapa Valley Progress) – It was a bizarre week for Nevada politics. A person couldn’t make up a stranger story! The voters of Nevada’s Assembly District 36 experienced a sudden shock on Tuesday, October 16, when news went out that front-running Republican candidate, Dennis Hof, was found dead at the Love Ranch, one of several legal and licensed brothels he owned in the state.

Despite his unorthodox and flamboyant occupation and lifestyle, Hof was, nevertheless, a warm and conscientious individual. We at the Progress extend our condolences to all of his friends and loved ones in their time of mourning and loss.

But what about the Assembly seat? With less than a week before early voting was set to begin, last week’s news raised a giant plume of questions concerning the fate of the swiftly approaching election. The Nevada Secretary of State’s office quickly and efficiently clarified things, though. They clarified that in such cases, according to state law, the deceased candidate’s name remains on the ballot for the election.

If Hof’s name should posthumously get the most votes, a vacancy would immediately be created in the Assembly seat. Such vacancies would, by statute, be filled by the County Commission body (or bodies) representing the voters of that district. In the case of District 36, that would require a conference of three different Commissions: those of Clark, Nye and Lincoln counties.

Perhaps the larger hurdle for many voters out there may be the tricky question of ‘How can I vote for a dead man?’. Indeed that is a tough mental puzzle to decipher, all on its own.

But even more emotionally charged might be the next question: ‘How can I actually vote for THAT man, alive or dead?’ Because of the vast divide between Hof’s flamboyant lifestyle and that of the average local resident, many people who normally would vote Republican in this race, were strongly averse to the very idea of voting for him. Indeed, as we have written in this column before, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Mr. Hof could have ever effectively represented Moapa Valley, if only because of that huge lifestyle divide.

But with Hof’s death last week all of those concerns and objections were suddenly washed far downstream. District 36 voters now find themselves looking at a wholly new and simpler election landscape; one that they must become familiary with quickly before casting their ballots. And given that new reality, suddenly a vote for Dennis Hof makes more sense than ever!

After all, should Hof’s name win, the Commissioners from the three counties would be obligated to select a Republican for the seat. Simply put, a vote for Hof would be a vote to keep the seat Republican and help maintain a conservative balance in the state legislature. District 36, which is predominantly Republican, would continue to have a conservative representative in the Assembly. Simple as that.

Furthermore, there are already whisperings among decision-makers on who the appointee would be, should Hof’s name prevail. The obvious name that has arisen is Assemblyman James Oscarson. James has been representing District 36 for the past six years. He narrowly lost to Hof last June in a bitterly divisive Republican primary. As a resident of Pahrump, and a former resident of Logandale, Oscarson has been able to serve all of District 36 well throughout his tenure. He is the most evident and reasonable choice for the position.

Should Hof’s name win the election, Logandale and Moapa voters should be prepared to contact County Commissioner, Marilyn Kirkpatrick, and urge her to champion Oscarson in the appointment process.

Letters from local folks to other County Commissioners, even including those in Nye County, would certainly not do any harm as well. But before that can happen, Hof’s name must get the most votes.

Before last week, the Progress had absolutely no intention of offering an endorsement in the Assembly District 36 race. But the reality on the ground has shifted; and so positions must change to keep up.

The Progress wholly endorses Dennis Hof in the race for Assembly District 36.


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