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Nikki Haley wins D.C.'s Republican primary and gets her first 2024 victory

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speaking at a campaign event in South Burlington, Vermont, Sunday, March 3, 2024.
Michael Dwyer
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speaking at a campaign event in South Burlington, Vermont, Sunday, March 3, 2024.

WASHINGTON — Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

Her victory Sunday at least temporarily halts Donald Trump's sweep of the GOP voting contests, although the former president is likely to pick up several hundred more delegates in this week's Super Tuesday races.

Despite her early losses, Haley has said she would remain in the race at least through those contests, although she has declined to name any primary she felt confident she would win. Following her loss in her home state of South Carolina, Haley remained adamant that voters in the places that followed deserved an alternative to Trump despite his dominance thus far in the campaign.

The Associated Press declared Haley the winner Sunday night after D.C. Republican Party officials released the results. She won all 19 delegates at stake.

"It's not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos," Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement, noting that Haley became the first woman to win a Republican primary in history.

Washington is one of the most heavily Democratic jurisdictions in the nation, with only about 23,000 registered Republicans in the city. Democrat Joe Biden won the district in the 2020 general election with 92% of the vote.

Trump's campaign issued a statement shortly after Haley's victory sarcastically congratulating her on being named "Queen of the Swamp by the lobbyists and DC insiders that want to protect the failed status quo."

Haley held a rally in the nation's capital on Friday before heading back to North Carolina and a series of states holding Super Tuesday primaries. She joked with more than 100 supporters inside a hotel ballroom, "Who says there's no Republicans in D.C., come on."

"We're trying to make sure that we touch every hand that we can and speak to every person," Haley said.

As she gave her standard campaign speech, criticizing Trump for running up federal deficit, one rallygoer bellowed, "He cannot win a general election. It's madness." That prompted agreement from Haley, who argues that she can deny Biden a second term but Trump can't.

While campaigning as an avowed conservative, Haley has tended to perform better among more moderate and independent-leaning voters.

Four in 10 Haley supporters in South Carolina's GOP primary were self-described moderates, compared with 15% for Trump, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 2,400 voters taking part in the Republican primary in South Carolina, conducted for AP by NORC at the University of Chicago. On the other hand, 8 in 10 Trump supporters identified as conservatives, compared to about half of Haley's backers.

Trump won an uncontested D.C. primary during his 2020 reelection bid but placed a distant third four years earlier behind Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Rubio's win was one of only three in his unsuccessful 2016 bid. Other more centrist Republicans, including Mitt Romney and John McCain, won the city's primaries in 2012 and 2008 on their way to winning the GOP nomination.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The Associated Press