Nikki Haley’s Republican presidential campaign says this week’s dual GOP contests in Nevada aren’t on its radar.
“In terms of Nevada, we have not spent a dime nor an ounce of energy on Nevada,” campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters on Monday. “So Nevada is not and has never been our focus.”
And Ankney charges that Thursday’s caucuses run by the Nevada GOP are “rigged” for former President Donald Trump, whom Haley is challenging for the Republican nomination.
Trump, who is the commanding frontrunner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run, is the only major candidate running in the caucus. And Haley, the former South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, is the sole remaining candidate listed on the state’s Republican primary ballot.
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The genesis of the competing contests dates back to 2021, when Democrats, who at the time controlled both Nevada’s governor’s office and the legislature, passed a law changing the presidential nominating contest from long-held caucuses to a state-run primary.
The Nevada GOP objected, but last year their legal bid to stop the primary from going forward was rejected. In a twist, the judge in the case allowed the state Republicans to hold their own caucuses. No delegates will be at stake in the Republican primary, while all 26 will be up for grabs in the GOP caucus.
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The state GOP ruled that candidates who put their name on the state-run primary ballot could not take part in the caucuses.
Haley and some of the other now-departed Republican presidential candidates viewed the Nevada GOP as too loyal to Trump and decided to skip a caucus they believed was tipped in favor of the former president.
Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald and both of the state’s members of the Republican National Committee are supporting Trump.
“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.
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While Trump’s assured of winning all 26 delegates at stake, sources say he and his campaign advisers have some concerns. An unpleasant potential scenario for Trump, who won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary by double-digits, could be Haley grabbing more votes in the primary than Trump lands in the caucus.
While the GOP presidential candidates had to choose either the caucus or primary ballot, registered Republicans in Nevada can vote in both contests.
And in the GOP primary, there’s no vehicle for voters to write in Trump’s name. The choices on the ballot are Haley and a “none of these candidates” option.
Trump’s campaign has been working to get the message out to supporters in Nevada that if they want to vote for the former president, they need to show up at 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 you have a caucus. Don’t worry about the primary, just do the caucus thing.”
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Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, who is supporting Trump, told the Nevada Independent last month that he would vote for “none of the above” in Tuesday’s primary and would caucus for Trump in the state GOP’s contest on Thursday.
A source in the former president’s political orbit told Fox News that team Trump is “fortunate that Haley doesn’t have her act together in Nevada.”
Trump is expected back in Las Vegas on Thursday for a caucus celebration.
Haley is not campaigning in Nevada and hasn’t campaigned in the state since speaking in late October at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference.
Haley heads to California on Wednesday, where she’s scheduled to headline her first rally in any of the 15 states that hold nominating contests on Super Tuesday in early March.
Ahead of her western campaign and fundraising swing, Haley is aiming to spotlight her momentum as she faces a steep uphill climb for the 2024 nomination against Trump.
Haley’s team says they hauled in $16.5 million in fundraising last month across all of their campaign committees, including $11.7 million from small-dollar grassroots supporters.
The January haul – Haley’s best fundraising month to date – was first reported Sunday by Axios and confirmed by Fox News. Haley’s campaign also said they added nearly 70,000 donors last month.
Haley has seen her fundraising continue to increase since launching her presidential campaign a year ago. She raised $7.3 million during the April-June second quarter of 2023 fundraising, $11 million during the July-September third quarter, and over $24 million during the final three months of last year, as first reported by Fox News.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans are supporting Nikki’s campaign because they don’t want two grumpy old men and all their chaos, confusion and grievances. They want a strong, conservative leader who will save this country,” Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas argued, as she took aim at the 77-year-old Trump and 81-year-old President Biden.
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