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Nikki Haley wins Vermont, the first state to spurn Trump in primaries

By Glenn Russell/VTDigger
Above: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley spoke in South Burlington on March 3.


By Emma Cotton and Paul Heintz/VTDigger

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won her first state in the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday — and it happened in Vermont. 

Haley defeated former President Donald Trump by the slimmest of margins in the state, according to the Associated Press, which called the race for her at 10:37 p.m. With 224 of 247 precincts reporting late Tuesday night, she was leading Trump 49.3% to 45.3%, according to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office.

Though she prevailed in the Green Mountains on Super Tuesday — when Vermont and 14 other states held primary elections — she was trounced elsewhere, including the nearby New England states of Massachusetts and Maine. Trump continued to rack up delegates to the Republican National Convention and seemed ever closer to clinching his party’s nomination. 

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, cruised to victory in Vermont’s Democratic primary. The Associated Press called the race for the incumbent president at 7:20 p.m., soon after the polls closed. 

In the GOP primary, Haley capitalized on anti-Trump sentiment in Vermont — and the state’s open primary system — to notch a win. (Vermonters cannot formally register with a political party in the state and are free to take Republican or Democratic presidential primary ballots, leading to the possibility of crossover voting.)

Presidential candidates rarely campaign in Vermont, but Haley touched down in the state on Sunday to hold a rally in South Burlington, where she was joined by her most prominent local supporter, Republican Gov. Phil Scott. He urged Vermonters of all political persuasions to cast their ballots for Haley to “help stop Donald Trump.”

While Vermont doesn’t send that many delegates to either convention, where the parties pick their presidential nominees (California, which also votes on Super Tuesday, will send 169 delegates to the Republican convention, compared to 17 from Vermont), it did feel like a victory to many Vermonters.

According to Secretary of State Sarah Copeland Hanzas due to the primary presidential elections, she expected there to be a higher turnout for Town Meeting Day. It’s the local elections, however, that Copeland Hanzas said are particularly important.

“While we get jazzed up about the presidential race, because there’s lots of advertising dollars that put that in front of us and in lots of different media sources, it’s really the decisions that are being made at your local level that are more impactful on your life,” she said.

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