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Trump flexes his muscles in Nevada and wins an unrivaled caucus | International

by Isabella Walker
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-”Three damned hours to vote, three!…”

The screaming man throws open the cafeteria doors at Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nevada. On the other side of the threshold is a scene where confusion reigns. Queues that lead nowhere, people who can’t find polling stations, people who give away ballots as if they were propaganda leaflets. This is what the elections organized by Donald Trump’s supporters look like.

-“Damn, I thought Republicans knew how to run elections,” said one man who couldn’t find anyone to give him information about his census registration.

Trump swept away caucus of Nevada with 90% of the votes. Once the count is complete, he will add the state’s 26 delegates (more than he got in Iowa or New Hampshire). The Associated Press agency declared the former president’s landslide victory while hundreds of his supporters still waited in long lines to participate. THE caucus They were only open for two hours, from five to seven in the afternoon.

The controversial politician competed alone in an internal trial in which three names appeared on the ballot. His, that of Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, who threw in the towel last month, and that of Ryan Binkley, a Texan pastor who dared to confront the party’s strongman in one of its most solid bastions in the West . Binkley had less than 2% of the vote when first counted.

“Let’s face it, all these people that are forming are going to vote for Trump,” says Linda Guglia. This 45-year-old real estate agent, a first-generation American of Austrian and Irish descent, voted in 2020 for Joe Biden. “It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life,” confesses Guglia, who intends to correct her record in November’s general elections. She says Democrats are obsessed with abortion, but what voters like her really care about are the economy and immigration.

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Linda was lucky. At the polling station she met Gareth, one of her colleagues from the Christian church she attends. The man did not hide her fervor for another of her earthly idols. He wore a white cap that said Team Trump Captain in big gold letters. On his chest he proudly wore a stamp that read “Caucuses in favor of Trump on February 8th.”

These Trump campaign representatives acted as election observers this Thursday. Some handed the ballots to the voters and guided them to the corresponding table to deposit the ballot in a small cardboard box. “There was confusion because we didn’t expect such a high turnout, but the point is to have an election with integrity,” says Gareth.

Hundreds of Trump supporters wait to cast their votes inside Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nevada.Luis Pablo Beauregard

The chaos wasn’t unique to the institute. Seven kilometers south of there, at the exclusive private club in Dragonridge, the scene was similar. Trump supporters waited patiently for up to two hours to sit at their tables and cast their votes, an action that took 15 seconds. The press was kicked out of the place by the owner of the place, businessman Rich MacDonald, a millionaire entrepreneur who is also the treasurer of the Republican Party in the state.

The shadow of suspicion that Trumpism has cast on election institutions and officials has led the Nevada Republican Party to retain some caucus in parallel with the primaries, which took place on Tuesday and were organized by the state government. Thursday’s trial shows the voting restrictions party members want to impose across the United States. Voting by mail has been banned, except for a handful of military personnel who will be able to vote by mail. Only those who had registered as Republicans before Jan. 9 were allowed to attend in person. Primaries, in contrast, offer more flexibility, allowing for registration on Election Day.

The ballots are paper and the counting should, in theory, be done live on site to avoid moving the ballots to another location. THE caucus They intend to make transparent a process that Nikki Haley herself, Trump’s only rival, considers fraudulent. “We haven’t spent a dime or an ounce of energy in Nevada. We decided a long time ago that we would not donate $55,000 to a Trump entity to participate in a rigged trial for him to win,” Betsy Ankney, Haley’s campaign manager, said Monday.

Haley suffered an embarrassing defeat in Tuesday’s primary. She could not prevail in an election in which Trump was not present and in whose ballots the ghosts of the Republican race still appeared, such as Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott. The candidate came in second with 22,000 votes, behind “none of the previous candidates” (47,000 votes). 60% of the votes went with this option, compared to 33% who went for Haley. The former governor of South Carolina was surpassed in seven counties and in the most populated areas of the state, the cities of Reno and Las Vegas. “Humiliating, embarrassing and overwhelming” were some of the adjectives the Trump campaign used to describe Haley’s role.

“None of the previous candidates” were, in fact, Trump. The former president avoided Tuesday’s primary, a process organized by the state government and launched by Nevada’s previous governor, Democrat Steve Sisolak. In 2020, Joe Lombardo, a Republican, won the state. The local president announced on Tuesday that he would check the “none” box and on Thursday he supported Trump.

Trump supporters spent their time in long lines taunting Haley. “This isn’t New Hampshire!” joked a man in one of the precincts. The conservative politician’s campaign, however, has focused on achieving high turnout to surpass Haley’s votes on Tuesday and avoid showing weakness in the South Carolina elections, which will be held on February 24.

“She doesn’t realize how ridiculous she is. Her brain at this point is as good as Biden’s. “She didn’t realize the competition was over,” said Mike Shamamian, a 77-year-old retiree who was reading a book about Ava Gardner. The man claims to have voted for the Democratic Party from 1968 to 2016, when he supported and even helped raise money for Bernie Sanders. Now he is sure that Donald Trump will become president again. “Democrats are only interested in money. They hate Trump because he already has money, but he just wants to do good things,” he says.

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