Tuesday, former South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is set to sweep the Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) in Nevada, clinching an outright win. Former President Donald Trump’s name is not printed on the ballot for the state-run primary at all. While Haley will likely ride the momentum of a purported victory, she won’t exactly strike gold in the Silver State.
At the Republican National Convention, Haley will not be awarded any of the 26 delegates from Nevada. Instead, the delegates will be awarded through caucuses run by the Nevada Republican Party on Thursday. By this method, Trump is essentially guaranteed to take all the delegates in the hospitable territory of Trump loyalists and MAGA enthusiasts who make up the base of the party. The only other candidate set to appear in the caucuses is Texas pastor and millionaire Ryan Brinkley.
A 2021 Nevada law required the state to hold a presidential primary and send out mail ballots. The law did not change the fact that the party can hold caucuses and award delegates by their methodology. The Nevada Republican Party (NV GOP), chaired by Michael J. McDonald, sued the State of Nevada in an attempt to get an injunction preventing the state-run PPP, but the legal challenge failed.
The dueling state run-primary with their auto-printed ballots and the party-run caucuses have been a source of contention among local Republicans for months. While the Republican Governor Joe Lombardo has committed to caucus for Trump on Thursday, he previously expressed concerns about voter confusion and disenfranchisement that could lead to low turnout in the general election. The Nevada Republican Club (NRC) also condemned the dueling contests and the party’s insistence on running caucuses. NRC proposed that Republicans should be using a primary as a practice run on ballot harvesting initiatives.
Trump held a rally in Las Vegas last weekend, encouraging voters to skip the primary and commit to caucusing, but a recent report indicates that Team Trump is less than thrilled with the optics of the upcoming caucus victory. Nikki Haley has banked more than 50,000 ballots in the early voting portion of the primary, while the caucus turnout for Trump may be much lower.
Senior Trump advisers grew dissatisfied with the campaign’s state director, Alida Benson, who they say pushed for Trump’s participation in the caucus, and felt the caucus planning was inadequate. The caucus sites were only finalized in early January, with the Clark County School District denying many requested locations due to scheduling conflicts with student activities. Other complaints included that the NV GOP employs just one full-time staffer and that both the NV GOP and the Clark County party, chaired by Jesse Law, lacked the resources to manage the caucuses effectively. Law sent out an email still looking for volunteers to run check-in tables and act as ushers just two weeks ago.
Consequently, the campaign faulted Benson for failing to mobilize volunteers, leading to a disorderly process. The campaign hired Brian Swensen, a former aide to departed GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, as Nevada’s senior adviser, while stating that this decision was prompted by Benson’s upcoming maternity leave.
Concerns about an empty victory aside, the Trump campaign plans to host a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.