Trump wasn’t on the ballot, but Haley loses Nevada’s Republican presidential primary

Trump wasn't on the ballot, but Haley loses Nevada's Republican presidential primary

In Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Nevada, former President Donald Trump’s name was notably absent from the ballot. However, his influence still loomed large as his last remaining major rival for the 2024 GOP nomination, Nikki Haley, faced defeat. Despite Trump not being a write-in option, voters had the opportunity to choose “none of these candidates,” a selection that ultimately prevailed over Haley. Supporters of Trump, interviewed by Fox News at polling stations, indicated their preference for this option, reflecting a sentiment against the candidates presented.

Nikki Haley, the former two-term South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador under the Trump administration, chose not to actively participate in the Nevada primary. With no campaigning efforts in the state and a lack of presence since late October, Haley’s campaign had clearly deprioritized Nevada. Her campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, emphasized this lack of focus, stating that Nevada had never been a primary concern for them.

As the vote count unfolded, Donald Trump seized the opportunity to criticize Haley via his Truth Social network, highlighting her substantial loss in Nevada and predicting her potential spin of the results as a victory. Chris LaCivita, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, echoed this sentiment, suggesting further embarrassment for Haley in her home state of South Carolina, where the next major contest in the GOP nominating calendar is scheduled.

While Trump’s name was absent from the primary ballot, the Nevada GOP is set to hold a presidential caucus on Thursday, where Trump’s name will feature prominently. The confusion surrounding these competing contests dates back to 2021 when Democrats passed a law transitioning the presidential nominating contest from caucuses to a state-run primary. Despite objections from the Nevada GOP, the primary went forward, leading to a parallel caucus being organized by the state Republicans.

Haley, along with other Republican presidential candidates who have since exited the race, opted to skip the caucus due to perceived bias in favor of Trump. This perception stemmed from the alignment of key Nevada GOP figures with Trump, including the state party chair and both members of the Republican National Committee. Ankney emphasized their decision not to participate in a process they believed favored Trump.

Despite the division between the primary and caucus, registered Republicans in Nevada have the opportunity to vote in both contests. Trump’s campaign has been actively encouraging supporters to participate in the caucuses, underscoring the importance of this vote over the primary. Trump’s upcoming visit to Las Vegas for a caucus celebration underscores the significance he places on these parallel contests and his strategy to mobilize support in key battleground states like Nevada.