‘None of these candidates’ beats out Haley in Nevada primary Trump skipped

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley suffered an embarrassing defeat Tuesday in a non-binding Republican primary in Nevada where she was the only major candidate on the ballot, while President Biden notched an easy victory from Democratic side.

In a contest that Donald Trump skipped and which does not count for delegates to the nominating convention, more Republican primary voters chose the “none of the above” option in the GOP primary ballot than did chose Haley, according to the Associated Press. Some of Trump's top supporters in the state had encouraged his supporters to choose that option on the ballot mailed to every voter to show the state's support for the former president.

Under rules set by the Nevada Republican Party, Republican candidates had to choose whether to participate in party-held caucuses or state-run primaries. Faced with the near certainty of a major Trump victory in the caucuses, which count for convention delegates, Haley — Trump's only remaining rival as he inches closer to the nomination as the front-runner — chose to put his name on the primary ballot. But Tuesday night's result is another sign of the fervent loyalty of Trump's supporters and the backlash against those who challenge him.

The Nevada Republican presidential primary and the Nevada Republican Party caucuses are both taking place this week, with different candidates on the ballot. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Biden faced only nominal opposition in the state first primary in nearly three decades, and the AP was projecting its decisive victory. The contest was another step for Biden toward re-nomination, as his team seeks to allay concerns within the party about his age and how he would fare against Trump in November.

The outgoing president was vying for Tuesday's Democratic primary vote alongside author Marianne Williamson. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who challenged Biden in some states, did not participate in Nevada.

With 86 percent of the votes counted in the Republican primary, “none of these candidates” came in first with about 63 percent of the vote, while Haley had about 31 percent, according to the poll's tally. AP.

Several Trump campaign aides described the results of the Nevada primary as “organic” Tuesday night, insisting that the campaign did not put money behind the message that GOP voters should select the option “none of these candidates” on the ballot. The campaign has instead focused its efforts on organizing people to show up for the party's Thursday caucuses in which delegates are at stake.

In a post on his Truth Social platform Tuesday evening, Trump wrote: “A bad night for Nikki Haley. Losing by nearly 30 points in Nevada to “none of these candidates.” Look, she will soon claim Victory! »

Chris LaCivita, one of Trump's top advisers, sought to draw attention to the outcome on social media, predicting that there would be “more embarrassment to come in South Carolina” during that state's Feb. 24 primary and arguing that the “Delusion Haley's Tour” continues, a reference to her narrowing path to the nomination. .

In a statement, Haley's campaign said it bypassed Nevada after determining that party activists would result in a favorable outcome for Trump. “Even Donald Trump knows that when you play the slots, the house wins,” Haley spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement Tuesday evening. She added: “We didn’t bother playing a rigged game for Trump. We're full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond.

Haley has signaled her intention to continue her efforts against Trump, even though many Republicans say her window to stop or slow him closed after a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire, the first state she ran for. better positioned against him. . Haley trails Trump by 26 points in his home state of South Carolina, according to a recent Washington Post-Monmouth poll.

On the Democratic side, Biden had about 89% of the vote early Wednesday, with 86% of ballots counted.

“I want to thank the voters of Nevada for sending me and Kamala Harris to the White House four years ago, and for taking us one step further down the same path tonight,” said Biden in a statement. “We must organize, mobilize and vote. Because one day, when we look back, we will be able to say that when American democracy was in danger, we saved it – together. »

For years, Nevada voters have chosen their presidential candidates by participating in caucuses held by their respective parties. But after the 2020 election, Democratic lawmakers pushed to hold statewide primaries and forgo caucuses, which were often low-turnout affairs dominated by party activists. They passed a 2021 law guaranteeing every voter in the state would receive a primary ballot in the mail, along with the option to vote in person or at a drop box.

But state Republicans opposed the change — insisting that Democratic lawmakers would not determine their delegate selection process — and sued the state. The conflict resulted in a confusing situation in which GOP voters had the opportunity to vote Tuesday in state-run primaries and in separate Republican Party caucuses Thursday night that will determine which candidate wins state delegates. the state. Trump is the only major candidate running in Thursday's caucuses, and he is expected to sweep all 26 Republican delegates.

Even though the Democratic race was not competitive in the Silver State, the Biden campaign used the contest as a launching pad to begin organizing its voting coalition for the general election in Nevada, a hotly contested swing state that held the one of the closest US Senate elections of the year. the country in 2022.

The campaign has conducted extensive outreach to mobilize state unions and young voters, as well as members of Nevada's Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander communities, with substitute events over the past month. On Monday, Biden stopped by the employee cafeteria at the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas to meet with union culinary workers, who are often the organizing engine of Democratic campaigns in Nevada during presidential years.

On the Republican side, Haley's campaign balked at the $55,000 fee the Nevada Republican Party imposed on any candidate wanting to participate in its party's caucuses. Haley aides and top strategists for several other Republican campaigns have also been troubled by the deep ties that Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald and other state party officials have with the Trump campaign.

Last year, Nevada Republican Party leaders were invited to Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, where they discussed the 2024 caucus process and state politics, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting. That meeting came as Trump's team was engaged in an aggressive first effort to court officials who have significant autonomy in deciding how their states select delegates.

Many Republican leaders in Nevada have also defended Trump's false claims that he won the 2020 election. Late last year, a Nevada grand jury indicted six Republicans, including McDonald, who claimed to be presidential electors in 2020 and had submitted certificates to Congress falsely claiming that Trump had won the election in their state.

Viewing the state GOP as essentially another arm of the Trump campaign, many GOP candidates have opted not to spend money organizing in Nevada this cycle — including Haley.

“We have not spent a cent or an ounce of energy on Nevada. We’re not going to pay $55,000 to a Trump entity to participate in a process rigged for Trump,” Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters earlier this week. “Nevada is not and never has been our focus.”

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