Stepping up

Lifelong educator and former Republican is taking on the Republican ‘pimp’ running for elected office

Lesia Romanov says she is running for the Nevada State Assembly 'against a man who is very much like Trump in the way he views women and treats them.' (Facebook)

He’s a brothel owner who had a reality TV show and calls himself “The Trump of Pahrump.” She’s an assistant principal who has spent most of her career teaching — and is a former Republican. And they’re pitted against one another for the District 36 seat in the Nevada State Assembly.

Until now, Dennis Hof has been stealing the headlines — the owner of five brothels beat a three-term incumbent to become the district’s Republican nominee. The self-described ‘pimp’ had been accused of sexual assault, and says if he wins the seat, he’ll establish an office in a motor coach in front of the state Capitol building where he’ll offer free liquor and “free shoulder massages for anyone who comes to visit or meet with me.”

Those stylistic echoes of President Donald Trump also turned out to be a tipping point for Democrat Lesia Romanov to enter politics. “Right now, so many women are running and I’m running against a man who is very much like Trump in the way he views women and treats them,” she said. “I think that’s a huge part of this election, and I think it will work in our favor.”

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel and recent winner of the Republican primary election for Nevada State Assembly District 36, sits in the parlor of the brothel in Mound House, Nevada, on June 16, 2018. Lesia Romanov, a former Republican who is alarmed by Hoff’s similarities to President Trump, is running against him. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

Romanov, 51, talks a good game but analysts say the possibility of her pulling out a win is a long shot, with all the makings of an epically mismatched David-and-Goliath style clash on the arduous race to the Capitol. District 36 is deeply Republican and Democrats haven’t even put up a candidate there since 2012. The Republican won that race by almost 30 points. But Romanov represents something so much bigger than this particular battle, though. Nationwide, she is one of a record 2,212 women running for state legislative seats — many of whom, like her, have been activated by their dismay at the president’s position on women’s issues.

“Democrats like Lesia Romanov are running for office in every corner of our state this cycle, and the wave of women who are stepping up to run in these tough races is incredible and inspiring,” U.S. Representative Jacky Rosen told The Los Angeles Times. Also a Democrat, Rosen is aiming to unseat Nevada’s Republican incumbent senator, Dean Heller.

Romanov wasn’t always a Democrat, though. Until 1999, she was a registered Republican. What flipped her party affiliation? She got divorced that year. “I think it raised my level of empathy,” she said. “I was more aware of the struggles of a single mom and trying to make ends meet, trying to take care of a family and household.”

In a fascinating profile by The Los Angeles Times outlines the range of personal struggles and the shocking tragedy she’s faced down and have pushed her to take the idea of running seriously, along with the recent policy proposal that’s alarmed her and which she’s intent on stopping.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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