Trump set to clinch enough votes for Republican nomination

AFP , Tuesday 12 Mar 2024

Donald Trump can mathematically lock up the Republican nomination in primary voting Tuesday, which includes the key swing state of Georgia where he faces racketeering charges over an alleged conspiracy to steal the last election.

Trump
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday in Rome, Georgia, US. AP

 

Trump steamrolled his sole remaining rival Nikki Haley in last week's 15-state "Super Tuesday" voting, moving to within 140 delegates of the total needed to win the nomination to face President Joe Biden in November's election.

Georgia -- along with contests the same day in Hawaii, Washington and Mississippi -- offer a combined 161 delegates, and with Haley quitting the race on Super Tuesday, the former president is unopposed.

Georgia was long reliably Republican but has become more competitive and is now seen as crucial to any candidate's White House ambitions.

The state has been roiled by the recent murder of a nursing student, allegedly by an undocumented migrant, and Trump pressed his case at a weekend rally in Georgia that Biden has lost control of immigration, a key plank of his reelection bid.

"Laken Riley would be alive today if Joe Biden had not willfully and maliciously eviscerated the borders of the United States," he said in the northwestern city of Rome.

The contests will renew scrutiny of Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia -- a state he lost to Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes -- as he eyes a third run for the White House.

Trump has been indicted four times, setting the stage for a year of unprecedented drama as he tries to juggle multiple court appearances and another White House campaign.

He was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia in August last year on racketeering and conspiracy charges, given the inmate number "PO1135809" by the Fulton County Jail and released on a $200,000 bond.

Accused of colluding with multiple other defendants to overturn the 2020 election result in the southern state, the 77-year-old had his mug shot taken during the booking process -- a first for any serving or former US president.

Repeated meddling
 

The first Republican presidential candidate to lose Georgia in almost three decades, Trump claimed foul play but several recounts and numerous lawsuits failed to turn up any evidence of significant voter fraud anywhere in the country.

He nevertheless meddled repeatedly in Georgia politics, pushing for secretary of state Brad Raffensperger in a now-infamous taped phone call to "find" enough votes to overturn Biden's victory.

The former president -- who denies all wrongdoing -- is being prosecuted under Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, which is usually used to nail down mob figures.

Georgia prosecutors initially proposed that the case begin this month, but it has been delayed, in part by accusations that District Attorney Fani Willis created a conflict of interest via a relationship with a lawyer she hired for the case.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgians had cast 284,000 Republican ballots and 155,000 Democratic ballots by the end of early voting on Friday. The total early vote in 2020 was 1.2 million.

On the Democratic side, Biden will be on the primary ballots in three states -- Georgia, Mississippi and Washington -- and in the Northern Marianas, a US-held island chain in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

He has not faced a serious challenge -- easily seeing off two candidates who have consistently polled in single digits -- and can also clinch the nomination on Tuesday if he wins 40 percent of the available delegates.

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