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Nikki Haley wins DC’s Republican presidential primary

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki, here in Washington, DC, on March 1, will win the Republican presidential primary in Washington, DC, CNN projects. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won the Republican presidential primary in Washington, DC, after three days of voting in the party’s only capital polling location – a downtown hotel.

Haley’s victory – her first of the primary – comes on the eve of what is expected to be a decisive week in the GOP primary, as she attempts one last stand as the race turns national. Former President Donald Trump has dominated every other early nominating contest and is poised to rack up more delegates on Super Tuesday.

“It’s not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos,” Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement that touted the former governor as the first woman to win a GOP presidential primary.

Haley’s victory, though a first, did not come as a major surprise. Many in Washington believed the District represented her best, and perhaps only, chance to win a primary. Trump’s hold on the capital’s GOP, which counts roughly 22,000 registered voters, has never quite reflected his dominance across the country. Trump won the primary in 2020, running uncontested, but finished third in the 2016 cycle. Haley held an event on Friday with local GOP leaders, a clear sign of optimism.

The Trump campaign, in a statement, sought to spin Haley’s win into a loss.

“Tonight’s results in Washington D.C. reaffirm the object of President Trump’s campaign — he will drain the swamp and put America first,” Trump press secretary Karoline Leavitt said. “The swamp has claimed their queen.”

Republicans will mostly forget about Washington now, at least in the coming general election. Biden won it in 2020 with more than 92% of the vote. The District has never supported a Republican presidential candidate. The GOP’s high-water mark came in 1972, when Richard Nixon managed a little more than 21% during a landslide reelection.

This story has been updated with additional reaction.