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Three Indicted and One Dead Republican Candidate Survive Midterm Elections


Historically speaking, campaigning while out on bail on felony charges has proven to be a surefire way to lose an election, with some notable exceptions. And yes, you read that correctly: Dennis Hof, a Nevada brothel owner and reality TV star who died in October won an election for Nevada’s 36th Assembly District Tuesday night, the Nevada Secretary of State’s office said.

Hof, who ran as a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Lesia Romanov by more than 7,000 votes, the office said. According to state law, county officials will now appoint a fellow Republican who also resides in the district to take Hof’s seat.

They include Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), indicted on federal charges of wire fraud and accusations he funded a luxurious lifestyle with campaign donations; Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), indicted on federal insider trading charges; and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), indicted on felony securities fraud charges in state court, accused of lying to friends and potential investors about his financial stake in a tech company.

Although Collins’ challenger, Democrat Nate McMurray conceded to Collins on Tuesday, he demanded a recount early Wednesday morning after the vote tally showed him trailing Collins by just one percentage point.

Hunter appeared poised to hold off Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar with an eight-point margin, with 67 percent of precincts reporting as of 4 a.m. PT.

Paxton, who has managed to delay his trial on securities fraud charges three times since being indicted in July 2015, won by four percentage points. It was an unusually tight race in a state where Republican statewide officeholders have consistently crushed Democratic challengers by 20 points or more for the last two decades.

All three candidates have denied wrongdoing and characterized the indictments against them as politically motivated “witch hunts,” as their Democratic opponents have lunged at every opportunity to remind voters that jail time could be in their futures.

While it’s neither unprecedented or unlawful for indicted candidates to win seats in Congress or state office, it’s surely a rare feat. Take for instance Michael Grimm, a former Republican congressman from New York, achieved it in 2014 after he won his reelection bid despite facing federal indictment for tax fraud (later resigning), and Floyd Flake, the former Democratic congressman also from New York, who with his wife was indicted for allegedly embezzling funds from the African Methodist Episcopal Church where he was a pastor (charges were dropped) and William J. Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana, is also an honorary member of the club. In 2006, Jefferson won a bid for reelection just several months after federal investigators found $90,000 in bribe money stuffed in cardboard food packages inside his freezer. He was indicted in 2007 while in office, was convicted and later served a prison sentence.

If convicted, Collins faces between five and 20 years in prison. Hunter faces between 21 months and five years, and Paxton faces between five to 99 years.

Some candidates have tried to run for reelection while in prison. That, too, has not always panned out well.


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