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Nikki Haley wins the District of Columbia’s Republican primary and gets her first 2024 victory

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

Her victory Sunday at least temporarily halts Donald Trump’s sweep of the GOP voting contests, although the former president is bound to pick up several hundred more delegates in this week’s Super Tuesday races.

Despite her early losses, Haley has said she would remain in the race at least through those contests, although she has declined to name any primary she felt confident she would win. Following last week’s loss in her home state of South Carolina, Haley remained adamant that voters in the places that followed deserved an alternative to Trump despite his dominance thus far in the campaign.

The Associated Press declared Haley the winner Sunday night after D.C. Republican Party officials released the results.

Washington is one of the most heavily Democratic jurisdictions in the nation, with only about 23,000 registered Republicans in the city. Democrat Joe Biden won the district in the 2020 general election with 92% of the vote.

Haley held a rally in the nation’s capital on Friday before heading back to North Carolina and a series of states holding Super Tuesday primaries. She joked with more than 100 supporters inside a hotel ballroom, “Who says there’s no Republicans in D.C., come on.”

“We’re trying to make sure that we touch every hand that we can and speak to every person,” Haley said.

As she gave her standard campaign speech, criticizing Trump for running up federal deficit, one rallygoer bellowed, “He cannot win a general election. It’s madness.” That prompted agreement from Haley, who argues that she can deny Biden a second term but Trump won’t be able to.

While campaigning as an avowed conservative, Haley has tended to perform better among more moderate and independent-leaning voters.

Four in 10 Haley supporters in South Carolina’s GOP primary were self-described moderates, compared with 15% for Trump, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 2,400 voters taking part in the Republican primary in South Carolina, conducted for AP by NORC at the University of Chicago. On the other hand, 8 in 10 Trump supporters identified as conservatives, compared to about half of Haley’s backers.

Trump won an uncontested D.C. primary during his 2020 reelection bid but placed a distant third four years earlier behind Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Rubio’s win was one of only three in his unsuccessful 2016 bid. Other more centrist Republicans, including Mitt Romney and John McCain, won the city’s primaries in 2012 and 2008 on their way to winning the GOP nomination.

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Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina.

Meg Kinnard And Will Weissert, The Associated Press