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'Moderate Democrat' Takes On Brothel Owner In Assembly Race

Doug Puppel

Lesia Romanov, a Democrat running in a strongly Republican Assembly district, says voters should ask which candidate is best for Nevada, her or Dennis Hof, her brothel owner and reality TV star opponent.

Brothel owner and reality TV star Dennis Hof is running for an Assembly seat as “the Trump of Pahrump.”

Hof won the June Republican primary in a district that sits mostly in Nye County, which Donald Trump won with 70 percent of the vote two years ago.

Now the only thing standing in Hof’s path to Carson City is Lesia Romanov, an educator, political newcomer, and the Democrat in the race. Romanov, a lifelong Nevadan, lives near 215 and Hualapai Way in a slice of the district that comes into the Las Vegas Valley.

She describes herself as a moderate Democrat who is against additional gun control laws and in favor of studying school-choice initiatives to see if they can improve education in the state.

“We need to look seriously at education and decide what’s the best way to move it forward,” she said.

Romanov said she hopes Republicans in the deep-red district ask which candidate is best for the state before casting their ballots.

“We don’t want our Legislature to be an embarrassment across the nation,” she said. “We have the whole brothel owner and sensationalist in my opponent, and I think that’s going to draw a few more Republicans” to support her candidacy.

She said she has gotten encouragement from members of the GOP and that there is a “Republicans for Romanov” effort in Pahrump, the largest population center in the district.

One of the issues in the campaign has centered around water drilling in the rural area.

Romanov explained that the problem centers around a decision by the state engineer to order the end of domestic well drilling back in December. 

She says the problem was some people had property that they had expected to drill on but now couldn't. She said the state is now working on a solution for those people caught in between.

But the issue of water in Southern Nevada is not something that is going away, she said.

“This is going to be a continual issue. Right now, they’re trying to fix the situation that happened with the order but it’s always going to be an issue of conservation and how we can best supply water to our residents and yet not head into more of a drought or lose water,” she said.

Another important topic for the district is rural health care.

Romanov said people want more access to care but that would mean more people would need to live in the area.

“It is this situation that you don’t want too many people moving into Pahrump but without them having enough people to warrant a permanent doctor in town. It is difficult,” she said.

If elected, Romanov would like to see if there are creative ways to improve access like more telemedicine, subsidies and possibly help from the federal government.

 The Assembly Republican caucus declined to endorse Hof, who unseated longtime Assemblyman James Oscarson in the District 36 primary. 

Romanov said there is a clear choice this November.

“I think if you look at my background it has always been in the service of others," she said, “With my opponent, I see that his focus is how can he get more media coverage. How can he get more business for his own businesses.”

Lesia Romanov, Assembly candidate

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)
With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.