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Saturday, May 25, 2024
Gov & Politics

Nikki Haley just won a primary—in Washington D.C.

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley just won the Washington, DC, primary, beating former president Donald Trump by almost 30 points, with nearly 63 percent of the vote. It’s her first success in a primary that has so far been an uphill battle for the former South Carolina governor. 

Haley made something of a power move to try to win the 19 delegates in DC, a blue city where fewer than 5 percent of voters are registered Republicans. On Friday, she held a rally at the Madison Hotel downtown, where the GOP also had set up the only primary voting site. A party volunteer outside the polling station explained to me that the DC GOP was forced to pay for and hold its primary earlier than the regular June 4th DC primary, because Republican National Committee rules require delegates to be elected at least six weeks before the national convention, which is scheduled for July 15 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Presidential candidates tend to skip DC on the campaign trail unless they’re in town for some other event, such as a fundraiser. DC GOP chair Patrick Mara told me he often jokes, “Even Abe Lincoln didn’t show up for our primary.” But Haley’s decision to make a stop in DC seemed savvy, bringing hundreds of people directly to the polling station in a city where she had a decent shot of winning.

The DC Republican Party skews moderate. In 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) won the primary, with former Ohio Governor John Kasich coming in for a close second. Trump won only 391 votes that year. (He was the only candidate on the GOP ballot in 2020.) So the conditions were ripe for a  2024 Haley victory. 

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