In Nevada’s recent Republican presidential primary, the name of Donald Trump, former US President, was conspicuously absent. Despite this, Trump’s political rival Nikki Haley, who remains a key player in the 2024 GOP race, didn’t manage to seize a victory. Voters, unable to pen in Trump’s name, were given the option to choose ‘none of these candidates,’ resulting in a surprise downturn for Haley. The ex-dual term governor of South Carolina and former U.N. ambassador under Trump, shrugged off the Nevada primary outcome where she was featured as a candidate.
Haley, intriguingly, side-stepped the electoral sphere in Nevada before the primary, and has not touched base in the state since addressing the annual leadership convention of the Republican Jewish Coalition in October. Haley’s team was clear about this strategy, as campaign manager Betsy Ankney relayed to the press, ‘We haven’t invested any funds or exerted effort in Nevada. Nevada is not, and never was in our target range.’
Despite the seeming insignificance of this election to Haley’s campaign, Nevada voters made their stance clear by favoring an absent Trump over Nikki Haley in an election that doesn’t hail delegates. Haley’s apathy towards the caucus process was also noted. As the vote was being counted, Trump utilized his Truth Social platform to express his take on Haley’s not-so-great Nevada night.
‘Haley has suffered a major blow, falling behind ‘None of These Candidates’ by nearly 30 points in Nevada. I predict she’ll be crying victory soon,’ was the cutting commentary from Trump. Adhering to this sentiment, Chris LaCivita, a key adviser for the Trump campaign, hinted at Haley’s upcoming political predicament in her home state, South Carolina, which is scheduled to host the next major GOP nominating event on February 24.
‘If you think Nevada was embarrassing, brace yourself for South Carolina… Nikki Haley’s Denial Tour marches onward,’ Lacivita expressed in a tweet. Meanwhile, as the clear current preference for the GOP ticket in 2024, Trump is slated to be listed for the upcoming presidential caucus organized by the Nevada GOP on Thursday.
The perplexity surrounding the existence of two competitive races began in 2021. The Democrat-controlled Nevada, with the party occupying both the governor’s office and the legislature, enacted a law to replace the traditional caucuses with a primary led by the state. The Nevada GOP countered this action but their legal attempt to overturn the primary was overruled last year.
Interestingly, the judge handling the case permitted the Nevada Republicans to hold their own caucuses, offering up all 26 delegate spots for contention. Concurrently, the Nevada GOP introduced a rule stating that contenders who entered the state-run primary were disqualified from caucus participation. This move stirred controversy among several former GOP presidential hopefuls who viewed the Nevada GOP as overly pro-Trump and therefore chose to abstain from a caucus they perceived as biased.
These candidates, including Haley, interpreted the Nevada GOP as being disproportionately favorable towards Trump, resulting in their decision against partaking in a caucus seen as skewed in the ex-president’s favor. The support for Trump extends to prominent party figures in Nevada, including state GOP chair Michael McDonald and both Republican National Committee members representing the state.
‘We decided upfront that we would not dedicate $55,000 to an entity favoring Trump, essentially giving our approval to a process knowingly rigged in Trump’s favor,’ stated Ankney. A distinguishing factor in this scenario is that while GOP presidential candidates have the tough task of choosing either the caucus or primary ballot, local Republicans are allowed to partake in both.
In the meantime, the Trump campaign is extensively encouraging Nevada supporters to make sure their voice is heard in favor of the former president by visiting the caucus in person. Trump is expected to make an appearance in Las Vegas this Thursday to join a caucus celebration.
The developments shaping up this week act as a harbinger for the intensifying campaign landscape in Nevada. A key state in the upcoming general elections, Nevada will soon see an uptick in political canvassing, especially during the summer and fall months.
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