OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Former President Donald Trump did not appear as a candidate in the Republican presidential primary held on Tuesday in the early-voting state of Nevada.
However, his absence did not contribute to ensuring a triumph for Nikki Haley, his sole remaining prominent competitor for the 2024 GOP nomination.
Although they were unable to write in Trump’s name, voters in the state-run Republican nominating contest could select “none of these candidates” instead.
Haley — the former two-term governor of South Carolina who later served as Trump’s U.N. ambassador — disregarded the Nevada primary results while her name was on the ballot.
Before the primary, Haley refrained from campaigning in Nevada and hasn’t been there since giving a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference in late October.
“In terms of Nevada, we have not spent a dime nor an ounce of energy on Nevada,” Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters on Monday. “So Nevada is not and has never been our focus.”
Nevada voters wrote Trump in and destroyed Nikki Haley in an election that doesn’t even produce delegates. The caucus does and she’s not even doing the caucus.
Drop out Nikki!!!
I’ve said it all along, people will elect Trump even if he’s not on the ballot and if he’s in jail! pic.twitter.com/KnkYVOGrNt
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) February 7, 2024
As the vote count continued, the former president took to his Truth Social network to target 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!” Trump argued.
Chris LaCivita, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, referenced Haley’s home state, which hosts the next major GOP nominating contest on Feb. 24.
“More embarrassment coming in South Carolina …the @NikkiHaley Delusional Tour continues,’ LaCivita claimed in a social media post.
Trump, the clear front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2024, will appear on the ballot in the presidential caucus that the Nevada GOP is hosting on Thursday.
The confusion over the existence of two competing races began in 2021 when the Democratic Party, which at the time controlled both the governor’s office and the legislature in Nevada, passed legislation replacing the long-standing caucuses with a primary election run by the state.
The Nevada GOP raised objections; however, their legal attempt to halt the primary from proceeding was dismissed last year. Surprisingly, the judge in the case granted permission for the state Republicans to conduct their caucuses, in which all 26 delegates will be available for selection.
The state GOP decreed that candidates who registered their names on the state-administered primary ballot were ineligible to participate in the caucuses.
Haley and several other former Republican presidential candidates perceived the Nevada GOP as excessively devoted to Trump and chose to abstain from participating in a caucus they believed was biased in favor of the former president.
Trump has the support of Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald and both of the state’s Republican National Committee members.
“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,” Ankney argued.
While the GOP presidential candidates were required to select either the caucus or primary ballot, registered Republicans in Nevada have the option to participate in both elections.
The Trump campaign has been actively disseminating the message to Nevada supporters that to cast their vote for the former president, they must attend the caucuses.
“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 a caucus. Don’t worry about the primary; just do the caucus thing.”
Trump is anticipated to return to Las Vegas on Thursday to partake in a caucus celebration.
The contests this week serve as a prelude to the upcoming campaign activities in Nevada, a crucial battleground state for the general election. Nevada can expect a significant influx of campaign activity during the summer and fall seasons.