World

Trump wins Nevada caucuses as remaining rival skips the vote

Nikki Haley opted for the state-run primary ahead of the vote in her South Carolina home.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
Election 2024 Trump Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday (Rebecca Blackwell/AP) (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Former president Donald Trump won Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses after he was the only major candidate to compete.

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, his last major rival, skipped Thursday’s caucuses even though they are the only contest in Nevada that counts towards the Republican party nomination.

Mrs Haley cited what she considered an unfair process favouring Mr Trump and instead ran in Nevada’s symbolic state-run presidential primary on Tuesday, when she finished behind the “none of these candidates” option.

Mr Trump’s win in Nevada gives him most, if not all, of the state’s 26 delegates. He needs to accrue 1,215 delegates to formally clinch the party’s nomination and could reach that number in March.

Supporters arrive before Republican presidential candidate former president Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night rally in Las Vegas on Thursday (Alex Brandon/AP)
Election 2024 Trump Supporters arrive before Republican presidential candidate former president Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night rally in Las Vegas on Thursday (Alex Brandon/AP) (Alex Brandon/AP)

Delivering a brief victory speech in Las Vegas, Mr Trump told his supporters he was eager to declare victory in the primary in Mrs Haley’s home state of South Carolina on February 24.

“We’re leading everybody,” he said. “Is there any way we can call the election for next Tuesday? That’s all I want.”

Mr Trump remains popular in the deeply conservative state but Mrs Haley, who won two elections as governor, is hoping her local roots give her an edge.

The former president is eyeing a massive delegate haul during the March 5 Super Tuesday contests, which would move him closer to becoming the party’s presumptive nominee.

Nevada’s caucuses were seen as especially skewed in his favour due to the intense grassroots support caucuses require candidates to harness around a state in order to win.

Nevada’s state party gave him a greater edge last year when it barred candidates from running both in the primary and caucuses and also restricted the role of super PACs like the groups that were key to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign before he dropped out.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event in Los Angeles (Damian Dovarganes/AP)
Election 2024 Haley Califorina Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event in Los Angeles (Damian Dovarganes/AP) (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Caucuses typically require voters to show up for an in-person meeting at a certain day or time, while elections can offer more flexibility to participate, with polls open for most of the day along with absentee or early voting. Nevada Republicans said they wanted certain rules in place like a requirement that participants show a government-issued ID.

Mr Trump still faces unprecedented jeopardy for a major candidate.

A federal appeals panel ruled this week that Mr Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting his claims that he is immune from prosecution.

The US Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments in a case trying to keep Mr Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.