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Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof considers US Senate run

Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch chain of brothels in Nevada, wants to go to Washington.

The business owner and star of the HBO series "Cathouse" said he has formed an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by the powerful Democrat Harry Reid. The senator said he is retiring and will not seek re-election in 2016. Hof recently joined the Libertarian Party and said he would run as one if he commits to a run.

"It's time to get someone in Washington that understands what Nevada is all about," said Hof, who added that his run is "pretty likely."

Dennis Hof, at his Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nev.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dennis Hof, at his Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nev.

Funding a senatorial campaign isn't cheap—and it won't be any easier by Hof's pledge that he doesn't plan to take any money from special interest groups—but he says he has a bankroll that's big enough to run the race.

"I've got 99 problems—but neither money nor women are one," he said.

Hof's decision to run, he said, was spurred by a state tax increase that was approved by the state Legislature last month. The hike, the largest ever in the state's history, will raise up to $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes.

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"I felt like it was time for a businessman to get into politics," he said. "Out of all the people who voted for this horrendous tax, only four have ever run a payroll."

Of course, there's another business executive seeking federal office in 2016 who has taken his share of lumps in the national media. But Hof said despite all the bad press that Donald Trump has attracted in his short presidential campaign, he thinks there's something people are overlooking right now—and it's something that works to his advantage, as well.

"As much flak as Donald Trump is getting, he's a businessman. He gets it," he said. "We're the ones who have to make sure our businesses are running properly. ... If Nevada and the federal government ran their businesses like the Bunny Ranch and Donald Trump['s organization], they'd be a lot better off."

Hof also said that he would focus on states' rights and sex trafficking if elected.

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There are currently nine Bunny Ranch brothels in Nevada, and Hof also owns a strip club in the state. Thanks in large part to the HBO series that spotlighted the brothels and the people who work there, Hof has a level of celebrity, much like Trump. But some might argue that notoriety could work against him, as well.

Hof disagreed.

Each brothel, he said, hosts between 50 and 100 clients per day. Several of those customers, he said, have already told him they'd be willing to contribute to his campaign. And by utilizing the girls who work at the Bunny Ranch (and their extensive social media reach), that could be a bonus for the campaign.

"We think we can do well to get people's attention," he said. "The girls have influence with a lot of people.... They're taxpayers. They get it. They're independent businesswomen, and they get what Nevada needs."

Next up for Hof is a trip to Las Vegas, where he'll meet with Libertarian Party officials. (He said he doesn't intend to run unless he has the party's full support.) The search is already on for a campaign manager.

Right now, his exploratory committee consists of his lawyers, his CPA, his CFO and Bunny Ranch Manager Madam Suzette, a 23-year veteran of the brothels and Hof's heir apparent, who would take over if he's elected.