Trump wins Nevada’s Republican caucuses essentially unopposed

Former President Trump won Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses Thursday, a contest in which he was the only major candidate to compete.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley skipped the caucuses, the only contest in Nevada that counts toward the GOP nomination. Haley cited what she considered an unfair process favoring Trump and instead ran in Nevada’s symbolic state-run presidential primary on Tuesday, when she finished behind the “none of these candidates” option, which Trump supporters were urged to select.

Trump’s win in Nevada gives him all 26 of the state’s delegates. He needs to accrue 1,215 delegates to formally clinch the party’s nomination and could reach that number in March.

After Trump established himself as the clear front-runner with wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada’s caucuses were seen as skewed in his favor due to the intense grassroots support caucuses require candidates to harness around a state in order to win. Nevada’s state party last year barred candidates from running both in the primary and caucuses and also restricted the role of super PACs, such as those groups that were key to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign before he dropped out.

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

Trump’s supporters waited in long lines Thursday. At one caucus site at a Reno-area elementary school, a line of nearly 1,000 people stretched around the corner and down the street 20 minutes after the caucuses opened.

Voters in line, some of whom were wearing Trump hats and shirts, said they came out to back the former president in a contest that would give him a third straight win in the Republican presidential race.

“I think it’s about backing Trump up and giving him the support that he needs. And to let people know that we’re supporting him,” said Heather Kirkwood, 47.

Trump has long been popular among Nevada Republicans, but he had other perceived advantages among the party’s key figures. Nevada GOP Party Chair Michael McDonald and state Republican National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid were among six Republicans in Nevada indicted on felony charges related to their roles as fake electors who sent certificates to Congress falsely claiming Trump won Nevada in 2020.

From Nevada, the GOP contest pivots to the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24. Trump remains popular in the deeply conservative state, but Haley, who was twice elected South Carolina governor, is hoping to benefit from a home-state advantage. Trump is eyeing a massive delegate haul during the Super Tuesday contests March 5, which would move him closer to becoming the GOP’s presumptive nominee.

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