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Nevada GOP presidential primary costs millions but caucus renders it irrelevant

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(The Center Square) – Millions of taxpayer dollars are paid for Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Nevada, but front-runner Donald Trump wasn’t on the ballot and votes cast won’t give Nikki Haley any of the state’s 26 delegates to the national convention.

The option “none of these candidates” received over 60% of votes in the Republican primary, followed by Nikki Haley, who 33% voted for, according to unofficial election results. Two Republicans who dropped out of the race, former Vice President Mike Pence (4%) and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (1.26%), also appeared on the ballot.

To stop any confusion with caucus candidate selection, the Nevada legislature in 2021 established a presidential primary. The reason for the change was the 2020 Iowa Democratic Party caucus when Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted recounts. Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid led the effort for the change and thought it would increase voter turnout.

The Republican Party filed a lawsuit last year to stop the primary. A judge ruled the Republicans could hold caucuses to select delegates, but the primary election would continue. This enabled the Republicans to prohibit any candidate on the primary ballot from participating in the caucuses.

The circumstances led the Haley campaign to avoid Nevada and focus on the Feb. 24 primary in South Carolina, where Haley served as governor, and its 50 delegates.

“In terms of Nevada, we have not spent a dime nor an ounce of energy on Nevada,” Betsy Ankney, Haley’s campaign manager, said in a call with reporters, The Hill reported. “We made the decision early on that we were not going to pay $55,000 to a Trump entity … to participate in a process that was rigged for Trump. So Nevada is not and has never been our focus. Truly not sure what the Trump team is out to there, but they seem pretty spun up about it. But we are focused on South Carolina.”

“Nikki is the last one standing between the American people and the rematch that no one wants in Trump versus Biden,” Ankney said.

To win the Republican nomination, a presidential candidate must have a majority of candidates or approximately 1,215.