Trump’s Nevada jackpot: Former president set to sweep GOP caucuses after Haley loses primary – Fox News

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LAS VEGAS – He wasn’t on the ballot, but Donald Trump came up a winner in Nevada’s state-run Republican presidential primary.

On Thursday, the former president’s name will be listed in the Nevada GOP’s caucuses, where he’s expected to land an outright victory.

Trump’s absence from the primary ballot wasn’t enough to provide a path to victory for Nikki Haley  – the former president’s last remaining major rival for the 2024 Republican nomination.

The former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration lost on Tuesday to a “none of these candidates” option by a more than two-to-one margin in a primary where no GOP convention delegates were at stake.

HALEY CHARGES NEVADA GOP CAUCUS ‘RIGGED’ FOR TRUMP

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump motions before speaking at a campaign event Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (AP Photo/John Loche)

Voters casting ballots in the primary couldn’t write in Trump’s name, but they could vote for “none of these candidates.” And Trump supporters Fox News interviewed outside of polling stations said that is how they voted.

While Trump, the commanding front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run, wasn’t on the primary ballot, he’ll be the only major candidate listed in Thursday’s caucuses, where 26 delegates are up for grabs.

The confusion over having two competing contests dates to 2021, when Democrats, who at the time controlled both Nevada’s governor’s office and the legislature, passed a law changing the presidential nominating contest from long-held caucuses to a state-run primary. 

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The Nevada GOP objected, but last year their legal bid to stop the primary from going forward was rejected. In a twist, the judge in the case allowed the state Republicans to hold their own caucuses. No delegates will be at stake in the Republican primary, while all 26 will be up for grabs in the GOP caucuses.

The state GOP ruled that candidates who put their name on the state-run primary ballot could not take part in the caucuses. 

Nikki Haley campaign calls Nevada caucus 'rigged' for Trump

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley waves to a crowd during a campaign event at New Realm Brewing Co., Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Haley and some of the other now-departed Republican presidential candidates viewed the Nevada GOP as too loyal to Trump and decided to skip caucuses they believed were tipped in favor of the former president.

Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald and both of the state’s members of the Republican National Committee are supporting Trump.

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Haley on Wednesday charged that “Nevada – it’s such a scam. They were supposed to have a primary. Trump rigged it so the GOP chairman – who’s been indicted – would go and create a caucus.”

“We knew that it was rigged from the start,” Haley argued in an interview with Fox 11 Los Angeles while campaigning in southern California.

McDonald, responding, claimed that Haley “is not a real serious candidate.”

“The fact of the matter is she didn’t show up. She did not campaign in Nevada and neither did ‘none of the above’ and ‘none of the above’ won,” the Nevada GOP chair told Fox News Digital.

It's presidential primary day in Nevada

The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign on Feb. 6, 2024. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

While the GOP presidential candidates had to choose either the caucus or primary ballot, registered Republicans in Nevada can vote in both contests.

Trump’s campaign has been working to get the message out to supporters in Nevada that if they want to vote for the former president, they need to show up at the caucuses.

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“Your primary vote doesn’t mean anything. It’s your caucus vote,” Trump said at a rally in Las Vegas late last month. “So in your state, you have both the primary and you have a caucus. Don’t worry about the primary, just do the caucus thing.”

Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, who is supporting Trump, told the Nevada Independent last month that he would vote for “none of these candidates” in the primary, and would caucus for Trump in the state GOP’s contest on Thursday.

presidential primary day in Nevada

A voting sign outside a polling station in Las Vegas on Feb. 6, 2024, as Nevada holds its presidential primary. (Fox News – Monica Oroz )

While her name was on the ballot, Haley ignored the Nevada primary.

Haley didn’t campaign in Nevada ahead of the primary and hasn’t been in the state since speaking in late October at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference.

“We knew months ago that we weren’t going to spend a day or a dollar in Nevada, because it wasn’t worth it. And so we didn’t even count Nevada. That wasn’t anything we were looking at,” Haley emphasized on Wednesday.

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As the vote count continued on Tuesday night, the former president took to his Truth Social network to take aim at Haley.

“A bad night for Nikki Haley. Losing by almost 30 points in Nevada to “None of These Candidates.” Watch, she’ll soon claim Victory!” he argued.

Haley, looking ahead, reiterated that “our focus is on South Carolina, Michigan, Super Tuesday.”

South Carolina’s next up in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, with a primary on Feb. 24. Michigan holds its primary three days after the South Carolina. Fifteen states, including the behemoths of California and Texas, hold contests a week later, on Super Tuesday.

Haley’s two campaign stops on Wednesday in California were her first to date in any of the Super Tuesday states. And the swing to the Golden State appears in part to be a marker for Haley as she pushes back against calls by some Republicans to drop out of the race and give up her uphill climb for the nomination. 

The trip also included a series of fundraisers. And as Fox News Digital first reported on Wednesday, Haley hauled in $1.7 million in fundraising during her two days in California.

Trump, meanwhile, is scheduled back in Las Vegas on Thursday, for a caucus celebration.

This week’s contests are just an appetizer for Nevada, which as a key general election battleground state will see plenty of campaign traffic this summer and autumn.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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