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Donald Trump celebrates in Las Vegas after winning Nevada caucuses

Updated February 8, 2024 - 11:17 pm

Former President Donald Trump scored his expected victory Thursday in the Nevada GOP’s caucuses and later praised the level of voter participation.

“This has been very exciting,” Trump said Thursday night at a caucus watch party event at Treasure Island on the Las Vegas Strip.

During his 15-minute speech, the former commander-in-chief said the caucuses had a “tremendous turnout” and that he received 98 percent of the votes. At the time he spoke, however, 371 votes had been counted, according to The Associated Press, which had called the caucuses for Trump at 8:05 p.m.

By 10:20 p.m., 29,020 votes had been counted, 99.3 percent of which went to Trump.

Trump thanked Nevadans and told supporters to go home and rest, and then come back because “we’re going to turn this whole thing around.”

He said he will win in November, as well, which received a “Trump” chant from the audience, which included former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

The former president was one of only two candidates left participating in the caucuses. The other candidate, Ryan Binkley, had received 216 votes as of 10:20 p.m. After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out, Trump’s win was all but guaranteed.

The caucuses took place two days after the state-run presidential preference primary, in which Republican voters chose “none of these candidates” over Nikki Haley. Trump was not on the primary ballot, as he was participating in the caucuses. No delegates were awarded through the primary, a virtually symbolic election.

“I’d like to congratulate ‘none of the above,’” Trump said Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Across the state, reporters stood outside caucus locations, many of which had long lines. Some voters told reporters it took about 90 minutes to cast their votes. Around 5 p.m., Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Law said more voters came out than he had expected and that he would have to bring more ballots to a caucus location.

Longtime neighbors and friends Donna Schafer and Kathy Sanucci braved the chilly evening near the back of the line at Tarkanian Middle School in Las Vegas.

Both said the caucus arrangement was confusing, with Sanucci noting that she trusted that the state party knew what it was doing.

They said their main concerns going into the likely November match between Trump and President Joe Biden were the border crisis and that Trump would be kept off the ballot because of his legal tie-ups.

“They’re trying to throw him in jail,” Schafer said.

Trump briefly referenced the U.S. Supreme Court, whose justices on Thursday signaled skepticism during oral arguments that Colorado was able to remove him from its Republican primary ballot.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled late last year that the former president could be removed from the primary ballot because of his actions to overturn the 2020 election results.

“Hopefully the decision will be a very important decision,” he said, calling it a “very beautiful day.”

Burgum, who had run for president but dropped out and endorsed Trump, said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Nevada’s caucuses “signal that the race is over.”

“Trump is leading in the remaining 47 states,” he said. “He is dominating this race.”

While the results were expected, he said, the caucuses showed a high level of voter enthusiasm, with lines out the door and people standing in the cold.

Thursday night’s win follows a track record of primary victories for Trump in the Silver State. Back in 2016, even as a political newcomer, Trump performed well in Nevada’s caucuses, receiving 46 percent of the votes.

But, he has not won a general election in Nevada, losing the state both in 2016 and 2020.

The Democratic National Committee took time following AP’s call for Trump to highlight that record.

“Nobody knows how to lose Nevada like Donald Trump – his back to back losses in 2016 and 2020 made him the first Republican in decades to lose the state twice,” said DNC Rapid Response Director Alex Floyd in a statement. “He and his MAGA minions may be able to rig a caucus for him now, but Trump won’t be able to escape becoming a three-time loser in Nevada this November when voters once again reject his MAGA extremism.”

Following the caucuses, Nevada Republicans will nominate delegates from precincts. In May, Republicans at the state convention will elect 26 delegates to attend the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July. Trump needs an estimated 1,215 delegates to secure his party’s nomination, according to the Ballotpedia website.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X. Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X. Staff writer Ricardo Torres-Cortez contributed to this report.

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