While the former president has swept Republican primaries across the country.—AFP
While the former president has swept Republican primaries across the country.—AFP

WASHINGTON: Presidential contenders Donald Trump and Nikki Haley will face off in the Washington, DC, Republican primary on Sunday, a small-stakes contest that could be one of Haley’s best shots to score a win over the former president.

The United States’ capital city only sends 19 out of 2,429 delegates to the Republican National Convention in July, where the nominee is formally selected. Sunday’s results are unlikely to change the trajectory of a race that Trump appears to have stitched up, having won all the previous nominating contests.

Still, the District of Columbia, as DC is formally known, could be unusually fertile territory for Haley, said a high-ranking official at SFA Fund, the main super PAC supporting Haley’s bid.

During the last competitive Republican nominating contest in DC in 2016, Trump received less than 14pc of the vote and no delegates, even as he went on to win the nomination nationally.

Ex-president heads to ‘Super Tuesday’ after winning all state contests

The local party’s single polling station in a downtown hotel has been open during daytime hours since Friday morning, and it will close for the last time on Sunday evening, after which votes will be counted.

The city is 100 per cent urban, and a relatively high proportion of residents hold a college degree. The core of Trump’s base skews rural, and he is particularly strong in areas with low educational attainment.

A lack of local opinion polls and the extremely limited number of Republicans in the city has created a degree of uncertainty about the primary’s outcome.

Haley campaigned in DC on Friday, hosting an event in the same hotel where the polling station is located. Trump’s campaign has been largely absent in the city, beyond sending out texts to local supporters asking them to vote.

The Democratic primary in Washington will be held in June.

After winning internal party elections in the states of Missouri, Michigan and Idaho, the former president has now won every state nominating contest heading into next week’s “Super Tuesday” when voters in 15 US states choose their preferred candidate for each party. Voters in the 15 states and one US territory will caucus or go to the polls on the biggest day of nominating contests in the presidential primary. Known as Super Tuesday, 874 Republican delegates will be up for grabs.

 Nikki Haley has raced around the US to make an increasingly hard case against the inevitability of a Trump nomination.—AFP
Nikki Haley has raced around the US to make an increasingly hard case against the inevitability of a Trump nomination.—AFP

Trump has gained huge momentum in the race to capture the Republican nomination at the party convention in July and Tuesday is expected to all but secure the result.

The voting on Saturday in Missouri, Michigan and Idaho were hybrid internal elections with differing rules, in some cases reflecting rifts and tensions despite Trump’s formidable sway.

In Missouri, Trump swamped his main opponent, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, winning every county caucus in the state, The New York Times reported.

Anyone who expressed an “allegiance to the Missouri Republican Party” could vote in the county caucuses.

In Michigan, around 2,000 party activists voted in a caucus convention, and Trump won all 39 delegates up for grabs, CNN reported.

The limited vote came in the wake of chaos within the state party, including allegations of overspending and mismanagement.

Trump had grabbed 16 Michigan delegates earlier in the week in a limited primary vote.

The former president also handily won Republican caucuses in the western state of Idaho, NBC and ABC projected.

Haley has raced around the country in the run-up to Super Tuesday, trying to make an increasingly hard case against the inevitability of Trump’s nomination.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024

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