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Nikki Haley beats Donald Trump in Washington DC for first primary victory

Nikki Haley beats Donald Trump in Washington DC for first primary victory

Nikki Haley has won her first Republican primary in the US presidental election campaign with a victory in Washington DC on Sunday.

It temporarily halts Donald Trump's sweep of the primary voting contests, although the former president is likely to pick up several hundred more delegates this week when a number of contests are decided, known as Super Tuesday.

Despite her early losses, Mrs 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.

The votes give Republican party members a chance to say who they want to be the GOP’s pick for the presidential race.

Following her loss in her home state of South Carolina, Mrs Haley remained adamant that voters in the places that followed deserved an alternative to Trump.

She won all 19 delegates at stake in the District of Columbia primary.

“It's not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos," spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said, noting that Mrs Haley became the first woman to win a Republican primary in history.

Donald Trump (AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump (AFP via Getty Images)

Washington is one of the most heavily Democratic jurisdictions in the nation, with only about 23,000 registered Republicans in the city.

Joe Biden won the district in the 2020 general election with 92 per cent of the vote.

However, Mr Trump's campaign issued a statement shortly after Mrs Haley's victory sarcastically congratulating her on being named “Queen of the Swamp by the lobbyists and DC insiders that want to protect the failed status quo”.

Mrs 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, saying: "Who says there's no Republicans in DC, come on."

She added: "We're trying to make sure that we touch every hand that we can and speak to every person.”

As she gave her standard campaign speech, criticising Mr Trump for running up federal deficit, one rallygoer bellowed: "He cannot win a general election. It's madness."

That prompted agreement from Mrs Haley, who argues that she can deny Mr Biden a second term but Mr Trump can't.

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

Mr Trump won an uncontested DC primary during his 2020 reelection bid but placed a distant third four years earlier behind Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and former Ohio Governor John Kasich.