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Trump wins Nevada Republican caucuses

Donald Trump won Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses Thursday, a victory that was effectively guaranteed when his lone remaining well-known rival, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, chose not to compete for the state’s delegates.

The former president has now won all three Republican contests so far — adding the Silver State to Iowa and New Hampshire — as he moves closer to the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination.

Thursday’s caucuses in Nevada came two days after the state held primaries — with President Joe Biden dominating the Democratic contest and “none of these candidates” finishing first for Republicans, ahead of Haley.

The Nevada Republican Party, which is led by Trump allies, opted not to award its delegates through a party-run primary — and barred candidates participating in the primary from caucus ballots. That meant Trump faced only little-known Dallas pastor Ryan Binkley on Thursday.

Ahead of his victory, Trump traveled to Las Vegas for a caucus-night watch party, where he joked about his political fortunes on the day that Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism over Colorado’s decision to remove him from the 2024 primary ballot and a special counsel issued a scathing report on Biden’s handling of classified documents.

“Is there any way we can call the election for next Tuesday? That’s all I want,” he said.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy attended Trump’s watch party and told reporters he spoke with the former president before Trump delivered his victory speech.

“We talked about the election and what’s going on out there,” McCarthy said.

Trump dined with Miriam Adelson, widow to the late casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, in the city before attending the watch party, Trump senior adviser Chris LaCivita told reporters. LaCivita and Trump adviser Susie Wiles also attended the dinner, he said.

Adelson, who has yet to endorse a candidate for 2024, met separately with Trump and Haley in November on the sidelines of the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering. Adelson has known Haley for years and has previously contributed to causes on her behalf. Adelson’s late husband, meanwhile, was the largest donor to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Later, in his victory speech, Trump mocked Haley for her performance in Tuesday’s primary. The most votes went to “none of these candidates,” an option on Nevada ballots meant to allow voters to express displeasure at their options.

“I’d like to congratulate ‘none of the above,’” Trump said.

Nevada Republicans aren’t the only ones caucusing Thursday. Trump will win the Republican caucuses in the US Virgin Islands, defeating Haley for the territory’s four delegates, CNN projects.

Haley faced an embarrassing outcome Tuesday in Nevada when she finished second to “none of these candidates” in the nonbinding primary — an outcome that likely reflected many GOP voters’ preference for Trump in a state that gives them the option to express their dissatisfaction with all candidates on the ballot.

While no delegates were on the line, the primary represented a setback for Haley as she seeks to prove to Republican donors and voters that she remains a viable contender ahead of her next major head-to-head contest with Trump in the February 24 South Carolina primary.

“We always knew Nevada was a scam,” Haley said in a Fox Business interview Wednesday. “Trump had it rigged from the very beginning. … We didn’t spend a day or a dollar there. We weren’t even worried about it.”

Trump, meanwhile, had urged his supporters in the Silver State to skip the primary and vote in the caucuses.

“In your state, you have both a primary and you have a caucus. Don’t worry about the primary, just do the caucus thing,” he told attendees at a recent Las Vegas rally.

The dueling contests are the result of a 2021 state law that scrapped Nevada’s presidential caucuses in favor of government-run primaries. Advocates said the move would be less cumbersome to run and less confusing for voters.

A pair of ballot drop boxes are displayed at a voter center in Las Vegas during the Nevada presidential primary on February 6, 2024. - Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
A pair of ballot drop boxes are displayed at a voter center in Las Vegas during the Nevada presidential primary on February 6, 2024. - Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

However, the Nevada Republican Party — which is led by Trump loyalists — opted to hold caucuses this year anyway and award the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention based on those results. It also warned candidates who participated in the primary that they would not be eligible for the caucuses or to receive any delegates.

Still, some Republican presidential contenders, including Haley, filed to run in the primary. Trump is now the last remaining major contender in Thursday’s caucuses, which effectively guarantees his victory. (He faces only token opposition on Thursday’s ballot from little-known Texas pastor Ryan Binkley.)

Democrats awarded their 2024 presidential delegates from Nevada based on the results of Tuesday’s first-in-the-West primary, which President Joe Biden won in dominating fashion — adding to his win in South Carolina as he moves toward securing his party’s nomination for a second term.

The lack of competitive primaries in Nevada means major presidential contenders paid little attention to the Silver State. That’s likely to change in the fall, when Nevada —a state Biden narrowly won in 2020 but where Republicans flipped the governor’s office in 2022 — will be a presidential and Senate battleground.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s David Wright, Ethan Cohen, Terence Burlij and Alayna Treene contributed to this report.

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