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Biden wins Nevada Democrats. No one wins Republicans — yet

Nikki Haley lost to “none of these candidates” in the Nevada GOP primary Tuesday — a rare instance in which the state’s voters rejected all the candidate options on a ballot.

The former U.N. ambassador had received less than 32 percent of the votes as of 10:45 p.m., with more than 60 percent of Republican voters choosing “none of these candidates.”

Haley had signed up for the state-run primary, rather than Thursday’s Nevada GOP caucuses in which GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump is participating.

“I think the Republican voters spoke, and there will be more to come Thursday night,” Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Haley, and her supporters, have criticized the caucuses, accusing the Nevada Republican Party — led by Trump allies — of rigging the caucuses.

On the Democratic side after a rainy Election Day, President Joe Biden won the nomination with nearly 90 percent of the votes. The Associated Press had called both of the races by 9 p.m., two hours after polls closed Tuesday, and at 10:45 p.m., 79 percent of the votes had been counted for the Democratic race.

Almost 90,000 votes for Biden had been counted by 11 p.m.

“I want to thank the voters of Nevada for sending me and Kamala Harris to the White House four years ago, and for setting us one step further on that same path again tonight,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday night. “We must organize, mobilize, and vote. Because one day, when we look back, we’ll be able to say, when American democracy was a risk, we saved it — together.”

Biden’s primary win, along with Trump’s anticipated caucus victory, brings the likelihood of a 2020 rematch closer to reality.

‘None of these candidates’

More than 55,000 Nevada Republicans’ votes were counted as of 11 p.m., with 35,000 votes going toward “none of these candidates.”

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Nevadans shunned all the candidate options in an election. In 2014, Democratic voters chose “none of these candidates” over Robert “Bob” Goodman in the primary race for governor. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was the incumbent and a popular governor, later won the general election with more than 70 percent of the votes.

Despite Trump not being on the ballot and participating in the caucuses instead, his supporters turned out to show their support for him indirectly.

Las Vegas resident Keith Foster voted for “none of these candidates” at Meadows mall on Tuesday because Trump wasn’t an option. He plans to vote for him in the fall general election if Trump is the GOP nominee.

“I think he did some things that were good in the past when he was president,” he said. “The problem is, I wish he would just, you know, keep his mouth shut sometimes and stay out of TikTok’n and Facebook’n so much. Be presidential.”

Throughout Haley’s campaign for president, the former governor of South Carolina largely skipped over Nevada, the “first in the West” state for both Republicans and Democrats in the presidential primary state line-up.

She visited Las Vegas in October for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit, an event that draws big Republican names every year. Other than that event, she has avoided the Silver State, choosing to focus on the Republican Party’s other early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Trump, who will return to Las Vegas on Thursday night to celebrate his anticipated caucus win, took to social media following the release of the primary election results, calling it a “bad night” for Haley.

Her supporters have expressed frustration over the dueling primary and caucuses and said they would participate in the primary to show support, knowing she would not receive delegates.

At the Veterans Memorial Leisure Center in Summerlin, Roger Smith did just that.

“I’ll vote for anybody but Mr. Trump,” the 77-year-old said. He expressed frustration about the two processes and said, “the Republican Party is no longer the party of the people. It’s a small group of people who are following a demagogue.”

Not competitive for Biden

For Biden’s campaign in Nevada and the state Democrats looking to re-elect him in November, Tuesday’s election more so served as an opportunity to kick-start voter enthusiasm and mobilization down the road.

“We went into this primary knowing that it wasn’t really going to be a competitive race, right?” said Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno at a primary night celebration. “But that didn’t stop us. … We got on the ground. We did the work. We built community. Why? Because we know that what we do today will matter for years and years to come.”

Patricia Donley, 78, said casting her ballot for Biden was a no-brainer at the Nellis Shopping Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Biden has smarter advisers around him, better knowledge of foreign affairs and generally brings dignity to the country, she said. Overall, Donley said she’s been satisfied with what he’s done as president.

Donley isn’t thrilled about a likely Trump-Biden rematch but maintains that Biden is the better choice.

“Biden’s not a yes man,” Donley said.

For Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, the election served as an opportunity for the county to test its capacity to get results out more quickly after the polls close.

The state has been trying to expand its capacity to process votes, so Nevada won’t be known nationwide again for being the state that takes days to count its ballots. Aguilar said this election will give officials information about how to adjust that process for the June and November elections.

“Nevadans want to know results (on) election night,” he said. “So as much as we can do to build that capacity to process the ballots that the county has on hand is critical to our success.”

Ambivalent on a rematch

While some voters expressed optimism and enthusiasm for Biden or Trump, others felt ambivalent toward a 2020 election repeat.

Melvin King, 36, voted for Marianne Williamson, who had received less than 3 percent of the votes as of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday.

In a rematch between Biden and Trump, King said: “I’m not a fan of either of those options, hence why I voted for Marianne Williamson.”

But if the general election comes down to the expected rematch, then “unfortunately, you have to pick the lesser of two evils,” whom King identified as Biden.

Vincent Nava, 31, voted for Biden but wished “there was a more progressive candidate out there that could move us forward.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X. Staff writers Taylor Avery, Jeff Burbank, Alan Halaly, Christopher Lawrence and Peter Levitt contributed to this report.

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