The “none of these candidates” option won Nevada’s symbolic Republican Party primary on Tuesday, an embarrassing result for Nikki Haley, who was the only prominent candidate on the ballots.
The former ambassador to the United Nations chose to compete Tuesday in state-organized primaries rather than party caucuses to select a presidential candidate, the only state process that awards delegates to secure the Republican nomination. Former President Donald Trump is the only major candidate running in Thursday’s caucuses, which could give him a big win among the state’s Republican delegates.
A provision in Nevada election laws allows more Nevada voters to check “none of these candidates” than Haley’s name.
Haley has said in the past that she will “focus on fair states” and not put much effort into campaigning in western states.
Tuesday also saw a Democratic primary easily won by President Joe Biden against writer Marianne Williamson and some lesser-known candidates. Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota did not show up.
Biden is in little danger of losing the primary, but he campaigned in the state on Sunday and Monday to begin mobilizing voters before November, when Nevada could become a key battleground state.
Jeff Turner, 65, arrived at the Reno Town Mall with a ballot for “none of these candidates.” His preferred candidates, Florida Governor Ron de Santis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy will also not appear on the ballot if they are still campaigning, as they have decided to participate in Thursday’s caucuses. Turner is among those who lament the increasingly likely rematch between Trump and Biden.
“I think it’s my duty,” Turner said of voting in an election where his preferred candidates didn’t run. “I believe that we all have the right to vote; we should vote. And even if it’s not one of the candidates, at least it expresses what I’m thinking. And I hope others see it. ”
Trump is expected to take Nevada’s 26 Republican delegates in Thursday’s caucuses. He needs to gather 1,215 delegates to officially win the party’s nomination, but he could reach that number in March.
Nevada lawmakers added a “no candidate” option to all state ballots after Watergate as a way for voters to express their dissatisfaction with candidates. “None” could not win elected office, but he was the leading vote-getter in the congressional primaries of 1976 and 1978. He was also ahead of George Bush and Edward Kennedy in the 1980 Nevada presidential primary.
The two parallel processes have been a source of confusion and frustration among voters, said Cari-Ann Burges, acting registrar of voters in Washoe County, which includes Reno. His office has fielded calls from Republican voters for months asking what process they should vote in and why Trump wasn’t on the primary ballot they received in the mail. The calls continued on Tuesday.