Death becomes them: Here are some politicians who scored posthumous election victories 

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Death becomes them: Here are some politicians who scored posthumous election victories 

  • Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof isn't the first to win election after dying.
  • Here are some noteworthy examples.
Dennis Hof owner of the 'Moonlite Bunny Ranch on November 13, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey. 
Bobby Bank | Getty Images
Dennis Hof owner of the 'Moonlite Bunny Ranch on November 13, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey. 

Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof was elected to the state Assembly's 36th district.

There's just one problem. He's dead.

Hof, the owner of legal brothels including Moonlite BunnyRanch and star of the HBO series "Cathouse," died Oct. 16. He had been celebrating his 72nd birthday with celebrity guests like former madam Heidi Fleiss and adult film star Ron Jeremy (who actually found Hof's body). His death came too late to remove his name from Tuesday's ballot, and he cruised to a victory over his Democratic opponent, Lesia Romanov.

It wasn't close — he crushed her by 36 points. Hof's death may not have prevented him from winning, but it does prevent him from serving, so his seat will be filled by a replacement who has yet to be determined.

Still, Nevada's situation is hardly unique. There have been multiple instances of American politicians who ran for office, passed away before the votes were cast — and still won. Here are some other notable examples.

Mel Carnahan

Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan speaks at a press conference September 15, 2000 in St. Louis, MO. 
Bill Greenblatt | Hulton Archive | Getty Images
Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan speaks at a press conference September 15, 2000 in St. Louis, MO. 

Mel Carnahan was governor of Missouri from 1993 until his death in a plane crash in October 2000. At the time he was running for a U.S. senate seat against John Ashcroft, and Missouri election law would not allow his name to be taken off the ballot, so his wife, Jean, was selected by the campaign to serve in his stead in the event that he won.

Carnahan defeated Ashcroft, who went on to become attorney general under President George W. Bush. Jean Carnahan's tenure didn't last long though — she was defeated by James Talent in a special election two years later. Strangely enough, Mel Carnahan died on Oct. 16, 2000, exactly 18 years before Hof's death.

Carl Robin Geary, Sr.

On April 13, 2010, Carl Robin Geary Sr. was elected mayor of Tracy City, Tennessee, despite having died of a heart attack one month earlier. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, he defeated his opponent Barbara Brock by 268 votes to 85.

Geary's widow, Susan, reportedly said that when her husband died, "people were calling with condolences and saying, 'We're still voting for him.'"

Patsy Mink

Rep. Patsy Mink, D-HI, speaks before a Committe on House Administration on the 'Campaign Integrity Act of 2001.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images
Rep. Patsy Mink, D-HI, speaks before a Committe on House Administration on the 'Campaign Integrity Act of 2001.

Hawaii's Patsy Mink was elected to the U.S. House twice: first for a 12-year stint starting in 1965 and again in 1990. She died of viral pneumonia on Sept.28, 2002, according to The New York Times.

Her death occurred just one week before the 2002 primary, which was too late to remove her name from the ballot. She won and was re-elected posthumously that November. Her seat was eventually filled by Ed Case, who won 43 percent of the vote in a field of no less than 44 candidates.

Hale Boggs & Nick Begich

Hale Boggs, left, and Nick Begich 
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Hale Boggs, left, and Nick Begich 

House Majority Leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Rep. Nick Begich of Alaska were campaigning in the latter's home state in October 1972 when their plane disappeared. After 39 days, the search had turned up nothing, and the two Democrats were presumed dead.

But they were still re-elected the following month. Their seats were filled after special elections shortly thereafter. In another strange coincidence, their plane disappeared on Oct. 16, 1972, on the same calendar day that Carnahan and Hof died.

Clement Miller

Clement Woodnutt Miller
Source: Wikipedia
Clement Woodnutt Miller

Representing California's 5th District, Clement Miller began serving Congress in 1959. The World War II veteran's luck ran out on Oct. 7, 1962, when he died in a plane crash near the California city of Eureka. He was re-elected posthumously to the House the following month.

James J. Rhoades

Pennsylvania Republican James J. Rhoades was elected to the state senate in 1980. The former school teacher and principal was running for his eighth term when he was injured in a car accident on Oct. 17, 2008. He died the next day.

Rhoades won re-election, but one of his opponents, independent Dennis Baylor, didn't immediately concede the race. "I wouldn't know how you'd go about conceding," Baylor said, according to the Pocono Record. "This is a race that's a sham to begin with, having to concede to a person who's dead."

Jenny Oropeza

State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, uses a fan to stay cool during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008. 
Rich Pedroncelli | AP
State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, uses a fan to stay cool during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008. 


California state Sen. Jenny Oropeza was first elected in 2006 and was expected to win re-election, but she succumbed to liver cancer on October 20, 2010, too close to Election Day to have her name removed from the ballot.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California Democrats sent out mailers to voters that alluded to her illness, but stopped short of saying she had died. She won with 58 percent of the vote.

Harry Stonebraker

Mayor Harry Stonebraker of Winfield, Missouri, suffered a fatal heart attack just weeks before the April 2009 election. He went on to win a whopping 90 percent of the vote.

According to the BBC, Lincoln County Clerk Elaine Luck said she wasn't surprised that he had so ably carried the town. "I figured he'd win because he seemed to get even more popular after he died, just like Carnahan," she said.