Nikki Haley, the ex-Governor of South Carolina and the sole significant challenger to Trump in the Republican primaries, will appear alongside U.S. President Joe Biden on Nevada’s ballot today. However, Trump is anticipated to secure a win in the state two days later. This situation arises due to Nevada’s adoption of a distinctive voting system, marking a first in the state’s history. Traditionally, Nevada has played a crucial role as an early voting state in the presidential election process.
Republican Party and Democratic Party Nevada primaries
Today is the primary election day for the presidency in Nevada, a state that’s been important in early voting for decades. Just three days after winning big in South Carolina, President Biden is expected to win again in Nevada. However, the Republican primary is more complicated, with only one main candidate showing up on the ballot for the race to be the 2024 Republican nominee.
Nikki Haley, who was governor of South Carolina for two terms and later worked as the U.N. ambassador under President Donald Trump, is the only candidate left in the official Republican primary in Nevada. Trump, leading the race for the Republican nomination in his third attempt for the presidency, isn’t listed on this ballot. Instead, his name will appear in a caucus held by the Nevada GOP two days later.
Republican party primaries vs caucus – a confusion for everyone
This situation started in 2021 when the Democrats, who were in control of Nevada’s government, changed the system from caucuses to a state-managed primary. The Nevada GOP didn’t agree and tried to challenge this change in court last year but didn’t succeed. However, the judge did allow the Republicans to organize their own caucuses. No delegates will be decided in the Republican primary, but all 26 will be available in the caucus.
The Nevada GOP has made a rule that if a candidate is on the primary ballot, they can’t participate in the caucuses. Haley and some other Republican candidates who have since dropped out saw the Nevada GOP as too supportive of Trump and chose not to join the caucus, thinking it was rigged in his favor.
Michael McDonald, the chair of the Nevada GOP, and the two Republican National Committee members from the state are backing Trump.
“In terms of Nevada, we have not spent a dime nor an ounce of energy on Nevada. We made the decision early on that we were not going to pay $55,000 to a Trump entity that you know to participate in a process that was rigged for Trump,” said Betsy Ankeny, Haley’s campaign manager on Monday. “Nevada is not and has never been our focus.”
Trump is expected to get all 26 delegates in Nevada, but there’s some worry in his camp. A situation they’d rather avoid is Nikki Haley getting more votes in the primary than Trump does in the caucus, especially since Trump had big wins in both the Iowa and New Hampshire races.
In this election, GOP candidates had to pick between being in the caucus or on the primary ballot, but Republican voters in Nevada can take part in both. On the primary ballot, there’s no way to vote for Trump directly. The choices are Haley or picking “none of these candidates.” Trump’s team is pushing hard to remind supporters in Nevada that they need to attend the caucuses to vote for him.
“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 the above” in Tuesday’s primary, and would caucus for Trump in the state GOP’s contest on Thursday. A source in the former president’s political orbit told Fox News that team Trump is “fortunate that Haley doesn’t have her act together in Nevada.”
Trump has scheduled a celebration party
Trump is expected back in Las Vegas on Thursday, for a caucus celebration. Haley is not returning to Nevada this week and hasn’t campaigned in the state since speaking in late October at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference.