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'None of these candidates' takes the Nevada Republican primary, dealing Haley a blow

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally on Monday in Spartanburg, S.C. Haley has focused her campaign attention and resources on South Carolina, likely causing her loss in Nevada's primary Tuesday to "none of these candidates."
Meg Kinnard
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally on Monday in Spartanburg, S.C. Haley has focused her campaign attention and resources on South Carolina, likely causing her loss in Nevada's primary Tuesday to "none of these candidates."

Updated February 7, 2024 at 10:15 AM ET

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley lost the Nevada primary Tuesday as voters turned to the proverbial "none of the above" option, according to a race call by the Associated Press.

Haley, who will not be in contention during Thursday's Republican caucus, which former President Donald Trump is expected to win, might have picked up her first win of the campaign in Nevada's toothless primary but it would have been solely symbolic.

Instead, the former South Carolina governor will have to spin a loss in a primary where she was the only major candidate on the ballot. Nevada voters have a "none of these candidates" option on their primary ballots which received the highest percentage of votes.

When reached for a comment early Wednesday morning, campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas decried the loss as "rigged."

"Even Donald Trump knows that when you play penny slots the house wins," she said in a statement to NPR. "We didn't bother to play a game rigged for Trump. We're full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond."

According to an NPR analysis of data from the tracking firm Ad Impact, Haley's campaign spent zero dollars advertising in the state of Nevada. She instead has turned her focus after New Hampshire to her home state of South Carolina, where voters will take to the polls at the end of the month.

For many Republican voters, though, attention now turns to Thursday in the Silver State.

That's when the Nevada Republican Party will hold its caucus, the official contest to win the delegates that are crucial to clinching the nomination.

Trump, who has spent time campaigning in Nevada and has urged voters not to participate in the primary, will only be an option for caucusgoers on Thursday. Still, no law prohibits GOP voters from participating in both contests.

The messaging from the state GOP party runs counter to efforts from the Republican National Committee, which is instead urging Republicans to vote early in 2024.

Trump will be back in Las Vegas on Thursday for a caucus result watch party — though he is already expected to win because he is the only viable candidate in the caucus.

Sarah McCammon contributed to this story.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.
Megan Pratz