The former United Nations ambassador, aiming to emerge as a contender against Trump, did not campaign in Nevada, stating her intention to “focus on the right states.”
Nikki Haley was defeated in a landslide Tuesday in Nevada’s symbolic Republican presidential primary, as voters overwhelmingly chose the “neither of these candidates” option on the ballot.
The result signals a strong rebuke of the former United Nations ambassador, who represents front-runner Donald Trump’s last remaining major rival.
Trump skipped primaries that do not award the delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. The former president is focusing on the caucuses scheduled for Thursday, which will help him in his bid to become the Republican nominee.
That makes Tuesday’s results technically meaningless in the Republican race. However, it represents a significant setback for Haley, who has aimed to present herself as a viable contender against Trump. Instead, she became the first presidential candidate of either party to lose a race to “none of these candidates” since that option was introduced in Nevada in 1975.
Haley had said in advance that she would “focus on the right states” and had not campaigned in the Western state in the weeks leading up to the caucuses. Her campaign chalked up the results with a reference to Nevada’s famed casino industry.
“Even Donald Trump knows that when you play penny slots the house wins,” spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said. “We didn’t bother playing a rigged game for Trump. We are full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond.”
Trump joked on his social media network: “Look, he’ll claim victory soon!”
Nevada lawmakers introduced the “none of these candidates” option in all statewide races to allow voters to take part in the election by expressing dissatisfaction with the available choices.