Dennis Hof, author of “The Art of the Pimp”, surprised Republicans earlier this month when he won the Nevada primary, and now – thanks in no small part to white evangelical Christians – the strip-club and brothel owner looks set to win a seat in the state house.
“This really is the Trump movement,” Hof, 71, told Reuters in an interview at Moonlite BunnyRanch, his brothel near Carson City in northern Nevada that was featured on the HBO reality television series “Cathouse.”
“People will set aside for a moment their moral beliefs, their religious beliefs, to get somebody that is honest in office,” he said. “Trump is the trailblazer, he is the Christopher Columbus of honest politics.”
While it is debatable that President Trump embodies honest politics, Nevada evangelical pastor Victor Fuentes is proof that Hof is at least partly right.
“People want to know how an evangelical can support a self-proclaimed pimp,” Fuentes told Reuters.
He said the reason was simple. “We have politicians, they might speak good words, not sleep with prostitutes, be a good neighbor. But by their decisions, they have evil in their heart. Dennis Hof is not like that.”
Many evangelical voters have taken a similar approach with Trump, looking past his many moral flaws in order to see the good the believe he will do for their causes – be it fighting for religious liberty, shutting down abortion, or tackling immigration.
“It’s more important for evangelical voters that Trump is fighting for an idealized, white Christian, conservative America,” said Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan organization that researches the intersection of religion, culture and public policy. “Tribal values now supersede personal morality as an animating force.”
Republican leadership, on the other hand, has had a mixed response to Hof’s victory.
The chairman of the state party said it welcomed “fiscal conservatives” such as Hof. But Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s Republican governor, Dean Heller, the state’s vulnerable Republican U.S. senator up for re-election this autumn, and much of the party establishment have not endorsed him.