Nikki Haley faces embarrassing GOP result


Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley faced an embarrassing result in Nevada’s GOP primary on Tuesday, with Silver State voters technically selecting none of the candidates on the ballot to win the Republican race.

Here’s what that means: Nevada allowed voters to back a specific candidate or effectively pick none of the White House hopefuls. That option received more support than Haley in the Republican primary. Former President Donald Trump was not on the ballot, as he’s participating in the state’s GOP-run caucus on Thursday.

President Joe Biden did notch a win in Nevada’s Democratic primary on Tuesday evening, as his challengers struggle to pick up steam across the country.

Catch up with the USA TODAY Network’s live coverage of the Nevada primary.

“None of these candidates” received the most votes Tuesday in Nevada’s Republican primary − beating out Nikki Haley.

Nevada law requires voters to be offered the option to pick “none of these candidates.” Nevada does not offer a write-in option.

Donald Trump declined to participate in the primary on Tuesday, which will not award Republican delegates. Some Trump supporters said they planned to select the “none” option in the primary as a protest vote against Haley’s campaign.

– Margaret Cullen  

Nikki Haley’s campaign on Tuesday claimed it did not mount a major campaign in Nevada because the race was ultimately set up for Donald Trump, who is competing in the GOP caucus on Thursday.

“Even Donald Trump knows that when you play penny slots the house wins,” said Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas. “We didn’t bother to play a game rigged for Trump. We’re full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond.”

Nevertheless, a win for Haley could have given her campaign momentum heading into the pivotal primary in her home state later this month.

−David Jackson

Donald Trump on Tuesday night immediately knocked Nikki Haley over Nevada’s Republican primary results, posting on his Truth Social platform that it was a “bad night” for his one-time United Nations ambassador.

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo and other Trump allies had advocated a “none of these candidates” vote as a way to shake Haley’s continuing candidacy.

− David Jackson

Nikki Haley didn’t see a sweeping victory in Nevada’s Republican primary on Tuesday.

Instead, more voters in the state selected a “none of these candidates” option on their ballot instead of supporting the former United Nations ambassador.

− Marina Pitofsky

Joe Biden won the Nevada primary on Tuesday, defeating his Democratic challengers as he seeks the 2024 nomination and another term in the White House.

“Nevada Democrats represent the backbone of our nation: the union workers who built the middle class, immigrants who came here in search of opportunity, and families of all stripes who deserve dignity, personal freedom, and a fair shot at the American dream,” Biden said in a statement as results were finalized in Nevada.

The victory comes after Biden saw wins in two other pivotal states, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

– Marina Pitofsky, Margaret Cullen

Former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, laughed and declined to say who he voted for after casting his ballot. Sandoval, now the president of the University of Nevada, Reno, voted at the university’s student union on Tuesday afternoon.

Sandoval told USA TODAY that he thinks most of the concern over the dueling primary and caucus has passed, and said he favors anything that gets more people to participate in the political process. Sandoval was first elected Nevada attorney general in 2003, and then after serving as a federal judge won the governorship twice starting in 2010, before term limits forced him to step down.

“Yes, there will be a little bit of confusion but if it encourages more people to get out there and be part of the process I’m all for it,” Sandoval said.

– Trevor Hughes

Polls for Nevada’s state-run Democratic and Republican presidential primaries close at 10 p.m. ET, which is 7 p.m. local time.

However, polls will remain open as long as a voter is at least in line by 7 p.m. If the voter has gotten in line by that time, they will still be allowed to vote.

– Margaret Cullen

Nikki Haley in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, again stressed the age of her fellow candidates, Trump and Biden, on Tuesday.

“We all know 80 year olds who can run circles around us…and then we know Trump and Biden,” she shared. “We need a president who has the focus and stamina to deal with all the challenges facing our country.”

Biden is 81, and poll after poll has shown voters have concerns about his age. Trump, 77, isn’t immune from the criticism either.

– David Jackson

In 2021, the Nevada Legislature approved a change to make way for a presidential preference primary. It was intended to be a simpler way to pick the preferred presidential candidates for the two major parties.

However, the Nevada Republican Party balked at the new format and went in another direction. Instead of sending delegates to the GOP National Convention based on primary results, the party will consider only results from its Feb. 8 caucus, which it will host and pay for itself.

The party says the caucus embodies the election reforms it seeks, such as the use of voter ID, a single election day with no early voting, paper ballots and less influence from super PACs.

– Mark Robison

Who is Hirsh Singh?

Hirsh Singh, an engineer and government contractor from New Jersey, is among the names on the Nevada primary ballot along with John Castro, Heath Fulkerson and Donald Kjornes. 

After multiple unsuccessful runs for office in his home state, he is now vying to be the GOP presidential nominee. In a July video, he described himself as a “lifelong Republican” who wants to fight the “grave threats from the corruption of both big tech and big pharma.” 

Singh has participated in several Republican primary races, including for a House seat in 2018, for a Senate seat in 2020 and for governor of New Jersey in 2017 and 2021. He came in third for the nomination during his latest run for governor, losing to eventual nominee Jack Ciattarell. 

– Anthony Robledo

Chris Christie: Donald Trump could be a “convicted felon” by convention time in July

Former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Tuesday said Donald Trump might have a new title if he formally receives the Republican nomination in mid-July: Convicted felon.

Christie on Tuesday told CNN said the appeals court decision denying Trump immunity from prosecution could clear the way for a sweeping election fraud trial in the spring.

A verdict could well come before the Republican convention in Milwaukee opens on July 15.

“My guess is that he’ll be a convicted felon when he gets on the stage to accept the Republican nomination for president,” Christie said.

– David Jackson

Republican Michael Holton, who works in manufacturing, said he begrudgingly voted for “None of these candidates” at a South Reno polling site. Holton, 61, said he wished Trump could have participated in the primary so the former president could defeat Haley in a head-to-head competition.

Holton said Haley, a former Trump ambassador to the United Nations, is disloyal in running against her former boss.

“I’m bummed he’s not on the ballot,” Holton said. “I feel the caucus will be strong for him but I’m just bummed he’s not on the ballot.”

– Trevor Hughes

The Nevada caucus is set for Thursday. The GOP will actually award delegates for the race, unlike the primary on Tuesday. Donald Trump is expected to participate, but Nikki Haley won’t be an option for caucusgoers.

– Marina Pitofsky

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., one of Joe Biden’s major challengers, will not be on the ballot in Nevada. He didn’t meet a qualification deadline, but author Marianne Williamson and other challengers are running on the Democratic side in the Silver State.

− Marina Pitofsky

Donald Trump hasn’t said anything today about the Nevada primary, which isn’t surprising. He wants Republicans to ignore the primary and focus instead on Thursday’s caucuses, in which he is the only major candidate on the ballot.

During a campaign rally in Las Vegas over the weekend, Trump told supporters: “Don’t worry about the primary, just do the caucus thing.”

– David Jackson

Outside a Reno voting site, Pedro Camargo, 65, said he voted for Biden in the primary, rejecting Trump as “a bully and a liar,” and saying he never considered Haley as a choice. He considered which candidate would better protect Social Security and Medicare, while trying to raise the minimum wage.

“I voted for Biden. The other guy wants to be a dictator,” said Camargo, an Uber driver in Reno. “I mean, he says he’d be a dictator for a day, but no one believes it would be for a day.”

Paul Leason, 41, was stationed outside a polling place asking voters to sign his petition to put Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the general election ballot as a third-party candidate. He opted to skip Tuesday’s primary and Thursday’s caucus because he thinks Trump and Biden are too old.

“(Kennedy’s) just better than the other two,” said Leason, who was recently inspired to get involved in politics by a podcast he listens to. “I’d take Trump over Biden though, but everyone’s old. I don’t think any people collecting Social Security should be running for office. It’s just the Boomers don’t want to give up power.”

While a primary election is run by state and local governments, a caucus is run by political parties. A traditional primary election resembles the general election, with voting via private ballot.

A caucus, however, involves voters dividing themselves into groups based on the candidate they prefer and arguing for others to join them. At the end of the caucus, the number of members in each group determines how many delegates that candidate gets.

– Anna Kaufman

Why is Donald Trump not on the Nevada primary ballot? Dual contests confuse voters 

Washoe County Registrar of Voters Cari-Ann Burgess said there has been ongoing confusion among voters about the difference between the primary and the caucus.

“We get a lot of ‘why isn’t President Trump on our ballot?,'” Burgess said Tuesday morning. “And the answer is he opted out of participating in the Nevada presidential preference primary. He just decided not to participate in ours, but he’s in the caucus.”

Under a 2021 state law, Nevada is required to hold presidential primary elections as long as there are at least two candidates for a party’s nomination.

But Republican Party officials ‒ many of whom participated in a 2020 effort to subvert the presidential election results in Trump’s favor ‒ decided last year to hold a binding caucus. They also tried unsuccessfully to stop the state from holding the primary.

Burgess said she isn’t directly coordinating with the state GOP because her office is non-partisan, so her staff doesn’t give out information about the caucuses. Instead, she has been trained to refer all questions to the party directly.

Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar said even his own friends called him up to complain about the dual contests, though his office alerted voters for months about the dueling contests, sending out postcards, posting signs and speaking to the media.

Nevada GOP has said previously it considered the primary election to be a waste of taxpayer dollars, and that party business should be funded and conducted by the party itself.

-Trevor Hughes

The storm that slammed California with rain this week has also brought heavy snowfall to parts of Nevada. A ski resort near Las Vegas said it had received nearly a foot of snow in 24 hours, and an avalanche occurred Monday leaving several people missing temporarily.

On this Primary Day, much of Nevada is under either a winter storm warning or a winter weather advisory in effect until at least 4:00 p.m. PST Tuesday. The National Weather Service says that travel may be difficult, especially in high-altitude areas.

To see the full list of weather advisories in effect, see the weather service website. Nevada’s Road Weather Information System website also tracks weather conditions by roadways.

– Kinsey Crowley

Trump calls on supporters to end Bud Light boycott

While waiting for Nevada primary results, Trump used his Truth Social account to propose an end to the conservative boycott of Bud Light because of its past partnership with a transgender influencer.

“The Bud Light ad was a mistake of epic proportions, and for that a very big price was paid, but Anheuser-Busch is not a Woke company,” Trump said in his post.

Trump applauded the Anheuser-Busch beer empire, saying it helps the nation’s farmer, hires veterans, and raises money for the families of fallen service members.

“Anheuser-Busch is a Great American Brand that perhaps deserves a Second Chance?” Trump asked rhetorically. “What do you think?”

– David Jackson

In Reno, the state’s third-largest city, Washoe County Registrar of Voters Cari-Ann Burgess said the process was moving smoothly. Mail-ballot voting began Jan. 27 and workers at her office had been opening and preparing the ballots for counting after polls close.

The temperature as the polls opened at 7 a.m. was 28 degrees with clear skies, a major change from a significant weekend snowstorm days before.

“We’re right on schedule, right on point,” Burgess told USA TODAY.

After contentious 2020 and 2022 elections, the registrar’s office is now live streaming the ballot counting, hired a full-time security guard to monitor the counting room and installed a glass-enclosed observation room so people can watch the count without disrupting workers.

And despite repeated news coverage, some Republican voters were still angry or confused as to why Trump isn’t appearing on the GOP primary ballot, she said.

Trevor Hughes

The only major Republican in Tuesday’s primary, Haley has requested Secret Service protection after saying she’s received increased threats, according to reports.

“We’ve had multiple issues,” Haley told the Wall Street Journal Monday. “It’s not going to stop me from doing what I need to do.”

Haley has been the victim of two swatting attempts in recent months.

When asked about heightened security at her events last week, Haley told reporters that “when you do something like this, you get threats. It’s just the reality, and that’s OK.

The Secret Service typically provides protection to “major presidential and vice presidential candidates as identified as such” by the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with an advisory committee, according to its website.

– Sudiksha Kochi and Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

Yes, Nevada offers same-day registration.

However, to register at the polls or update your voter registration at the polls, you must have a valid Nevada driver’s license or ID card. This rule goes without exception.

If your Nevada ID has an outdated address, the state does allow you to provide an alternative proof of residence. Find the list of acceptable items on the Nevada’s Secretary of State site.

– Kinsey Crowley

While Nikki Haley is trying to pick up momentum in Nevada, South Carolina and other pivotal 2024 contests, she’s still trailing Trump, the Republican frontrunner.

In a Real Clear Politics average of polls of the Republican field, Trump garnered 73.5% support across the country. In comparison, Haley received 18.8% support, even after rivals such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and others dropped out of the GOP primary.

– Marina Pitofsky

Joe Biden cruised to an easy victory Saturday in the South Carolina primary, the first official contest of the 2024 Democratic nomination process.

The Associated Press called the race for Biden about an hour after the polls closed at 7 p.m., even as Biden faced challenges from Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and author Marianne Williamson.

While the president is expected to win the 2024 Democratic nomination, the primary season could give clues as to where Biden stands with his party’s base and whether he has lost supporters since his 2020 White House bid.

– USA TODAY staff

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