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Nikki Haley beats Donald Trump for first time in a primary

US Republican presidential hopeful and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally in Portland, Maine, on March 3, 2024
Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally in Portland, Maine on the fday of her victory - Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Nikki Haley won her first Republican primary contest on Sunday in a victory over Donald Trump in Washington DC.

The former South Carolina governor won the capital by 63 per cent to Mr Trump’s 33 per cent, with around 2,000 Republicans in Washington casting a ballot.

The win makes Ms Haley the first woman to win a Republican primary in US political history, and marks the victory of Ms Haley’s bid for the nomination.

Her spokeswoman, Olivia Perez-Cubas, said: “It’s not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos.”

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley gestures to herself as she speaks at a campaign event in Portland, Maine
Ms Haley is the first woman to win a Republican primary in US political history - Joel Page/Reuters

The Washington DC primary has far fewer voters than most states, and has an electorate of Republicans that are generally more moderate than the rest of the US.

In 2016’s primary, the last competitive race, Mr Trump won just 16 per cent of the vote there.

Mr Trump has won ten consecutive primaries, and is expected to win the contest by securing half of the total delegates in the next few weeks.

The former president’s campaign said Ms Haley had been crowned “Queen of the swamp” – the derogatory nickname he has given to the city.

“Tonight’s results in Washington D.C. reaffirm the object of President Trump’s campaign — he will drain the swamp and put America first,” said Karoline Leavitt, a Trump Campaign Press Secretary.

“While Nikki has been soundly rejected throughout the rest of America, she was just crowned Queen of the Swamp by the lobbyists and DC insiders that want to protect the failed status quo. The swamp has claimed their queen.

“President Trump will fight for every American who is being let down by these very DC insiders and devastated by Joe Biden’s failures.”

Ms Haley’s majority victory means she will receive all 19 of the capital’s delegates to the Republican National Convention in July.

However, Mr Trump is expected to have received the 1,234 delegates he requires across the US to win the contest by the end of March.

The result in Washington comes after Mr Trump won delegates in Michigan, Missouri and Idaho on Saturday, setting him up for fifteen more votes on “Super Tuesday” next week.

Ms Haley is forecast to lose heavily, including in the two major states of California and Texas, raising further questions about the viability of her campaign.

In an interview on Sunday morning, Ms Haley suggested she may not honour her pledge to the Republican National Committee (RNC) to support whoever wins the primary race.

“The RNC is now not the same RNC,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I’ll make what decision I want to make.”