This week, Nevada will have two Republican contests – a primary on Tuesday and a caucus two days later. Donald Trump and Nikki Haley will not be competing against each other, as they are running in different races. The primary has limited candidate options, except for Haley, and a Republican Party loyal to Trump, making it easy for the former president to sweep the delegates allocated by the state. This will turn the third state in the Republican primary calendar into a national non-factor.
Haley will run in the February 6 primaries, while Trump will be in the caucuses on February 8. Only the caucus will count for the purposes of awarding the 24 delegates who will represent the state in the Republican Convention. Regardless of how Haley does in the primaries, Trump is guaranteed victory in Nevada.
The Nevada Republican Party is led by Trump allies, some of whom have been charged with felonies related to their role as “false electors,” falsely declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election in Nevada. This aligns with a broader pattern of state Republican parties closely aligning with Trump as he seeks to secure the Republican nomination quickly.
Changes made by Trump’s allies in Nevada have diminished the influence that the state would have as an early and competitive nominating state. The changes also prepared them for the caucuses and imposed restrictions that rivals such as Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis felt made the process unfair.
In 2021, Democrats who controlled state government passed a law requiring the state to hold presidential preference primaries. The state’s elections are some of the largest in the country, with a universal mail-in voting system. However, Trump’s allies decided to bypass that process and celebrate his own caucus two days later, with on-site voter ID requirements, paper ballots, and only same-day voting in a two-and-a-half-hour window on a Thursday night.
Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, told The Associated Press that the party pushed for the caucus, as Democrats in the state legislature did not consider Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s election measures, particularly voter ID. Lombardo criticized the state GOP’s decision to hold a caucus for considering it confusing to voters, like other Republicans across the state. But he still plans to caucus for Trump.
The state GOP gave candidates an ultimatum: Those who registered for the state primary would be excluded from the caucus. Haley opted for the primary, while Trump chose the caucus. While Trump is left off the primary ballot sent to Republican voters, he is the only major candidate eligible for Nevada’s 26 delegates. He will face Ryan Binkley in the party-run caucus, which received about 0.1% of New Hampshire’s votes.
Former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott will also be on the primary ballot, having declared for that contest before retiring. DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie chose the group before leaving the field. The caucuses are expected to benefit Trump given his solid hold on the Republican Party’s most loyal voters. While the campaigns can try to influence voters during caucus meetings, the state party passed rules when the primary field was most crowded to prevent SuperPACs, like the one DeSantis had been relying on, from trying to shore up support for his candidacy.
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