Nikki Haley beats Trump in first Republican primary in Washington DC

Nikki Haley is the first woman to win a Republican primary in US history, but victory looks little more than symbolic.

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley walks on stage during the South Carolina Republican presidential primary election, February 24, 2024 [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Nikki Haley has become the first woman to win a Republican primary following victory in Washington, DC.

The former ambassador to the United Nations was declared the winner late on Sunday. The victory offers a small boost to her campaign, but former United States President Donald Trump retains a huge lead in the race to become the Republican candidate in November’s presidential election.

Trump’s only remaining challenger for the nomination won 62.9 percent of the vote in the capital. The controversial former president took 33.2 percent. The result handed Haley all 19 delegates at stake.

“It’s not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos,” Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement.

However, the GOP appears ready to look past that chaos, which includes numerous legal cases, including efforts to brand Trump ineligible to run in November.

Haley faces near-impossible odds in her quest to win the Republican nomination to take on likely Democratic nominee President Joe Biden in November.

Trump won the first eight nominating contests by significant margins and is expected to increase his lead in this week’s Super Tuesday races, which will see 15 states vote.

Despite the small and symbolic victory in DC, the primaries later this week are thought likely to test the former South Carolina governor’s determination to fight on.

Trump’s campaign issued a statement shortly after Sunday’s vote was declared, sarcastically congratulating her on being named “Queen of the Swamp by the lobbyists and DC insiders that want to protect the failed status quo”.

“Tonight’s results in Washington DC reaffirm the object of President Trump’s campaign – he will drain the swamp and put America first,” the statement added.

The US Supreme Court is expected on Monday to rule on an earlier decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that disqualified Trump from running for president.

Referring to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, the Colorado court invoked a Civil War constitutional provision preventing those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

That ruling made him ineligible to appear on a Colorado ballot, including for Tuesday’s primary vote.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies