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GOP hopefuls split between primary, caucus as Nevada presidential filing comes to a close

Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy are running in the caucus, while Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Tim Scott have filed for the primary.
Sean Golonka
Sean Golonka
Election 2024

Monday marked the end of candidate filing for Nevada’s 2024 presidential nominating contests, with Democratic hopefuls and some Republicans filing for the state-run primary and the bulk of top GOP candidates filing for a party-operated caucus.

With the dust settled, former President Donald Trump is set to take on five competitors including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramasway in the Nevada Republican Party’s caucus on Feb. 8.

But two days before the caucus, three major GOP presidential hopefuls — former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) — will appear on a statewide primary ballot (along with four long-shot presidential hopefuls). 

The divide comes via the Nevada GOP’s decision to hold a caucus two days after the Feb. 6 primary — and to use the results of the caucus to determine presidential delegates despite a 2021 law that transitioned the state’s presidential nominating system from the traditional party-run caucus system to a state-run primary carried out in the same way as other state elections, including early voting and universal vote-by-mail.

The state Republican Party adopted rules that barred candidates running in the primary from joining the caucus. Party officials have said they are holding the caucus to maintain the traditional system and implement election rules that are not supported by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, including requiring voter ID.

The decision by Haley, Pence and Scott to skip out on the caucus means missing out on an opportunity to win Nevada delegates but offers a chance to run on a ballot that does not include front-runner Trump — giving the trailing candidates a chance to win an early statewide preference election.

Other GOP caucus participants include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and pastor Ryan Binkley.

While Trump remains broadly popular among Nevada Republicans — a recent CNN poll of likely GOP caucusgoers found 65 percent supported Trump — DeSantis and Ramaswamy’s campaigns said their decision to run in the caucus was motivated by a desire to win delegates needed to become the party’s nominee. Nevada’s 26 delegates represent about 1 percent of the national total of an estimated 2,467 delegates.

Across the aisle, in the Democratic primary, President Joe Biden filed to run as he pursues re-election. He’ll face off against self-help author Marianne Williamson and 11 other little-known candidates in the state-run primary.

Explore the chart below to see who has filed for each contest:


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