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Trump Wins USVI GOP Caucus

Former President Donald Trump won the Virgin Islands caucus and captured the territory’s delegates to the 2024 Republican National Convention, according to results announced Thursday during an election night party at the Morningstar Buoy Haus Beach Resort on St. Thomas.

“Going third-in-the-nation with an unrigged caucus using ranked-choice voting not only gave every candidate a fair and equal playing field, but it resulted in unprecedented attention for the Virgin Islands,” said Republican Party in the Virgin Islands chairman Gordon Ackley in a press release the party issued Thursday night. “Based on the results, the Virgin Islands has put Donald Trump on track to become the presumptive Republican nominee.”

Pending the final canvass by the Caucus Committee, Trump received 73.98 percent of the vote compared to 26.02 percent for former Ambassador Nikki Haley, according to the release. It did not give a figure for voter turnout, but there are 940 registered Republicans in the territory, according to active voter registration numbers.

Also on the ballot were former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson and Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Voters were able to rank candidates on their ballot; if a voter’s first-choice candidate had withdrawn, their vote simply counted for a backup choice still in the race, the release stated. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum withdrew their names after filing and qualifying for the ballot.

“The Virgin Islands will send nine delegates and six alternate delegates to the 2024 Republican National Convention that formally nominates the Republican presidential and vice presidential ticket,” the release stated. That number has been up for debate, however, after the RNC said it would impose penalties for the party holding its caucus ahead of Super Tuesday, and for employing ranked-choice voting, which is against the rules. The delegates will be elected by a Delegate Selection Committee at 9 a.m. Friday. Twelve candidates filed before the deadline, according to party officials.

Haley, Trump and DeSantis all actively competed in the Virgin Islands. Haley sent a senior staffer to the islands, and made two appearances by Zoom in the islands, including Monday on St. Croix when she committed to full equality for the five U.S. territories and a conversation on voting rights. While the Virgin Islands fully and equally participates in the Republican nomination phase of the presidential campaign, the territory doesn’t get votes in the general election.

Meanwhile, Trump dispatched Congressmen Byron Donalds and Wesley Hunt to headline Republican receptions, and also sent Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna and Congressman Jack Bergman to the islands on caucus day. Hunt has been rumored as a possible running mate for Trump. The former president also had Dr. Ben Carson, a cabinet secretary in his first term, address a November meeting of the Republican State Committee that also featured DeSantis surrogate Ken Cuccinelli and Rick Wiley, a senior adviser to Haley.

The caucus was held on all three islands with voting precincts at the La Reine Chicken Shack on St. Croix, the Lovango Rum Bar on St. John and Bluebeard’s Castle on St. Thomas.

In a separate ballot for internal Republican party offices, April Newland was elected to the Republican National Committee as the territory’s national committeewoman. She defeated Antoinette Gumbs-Hecht by a vote of 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent, according to the release. Meanwhile, John Yob was elected to the RNC in an unopposed race for national committeeman.

For the Republican State Committee, Jameson Engelhard, Krystal Flores and Vanessa Mull Coffen and Alexandra Bonthron, David Weisher and Mark Zion were unopposed for respective seats from St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John, the party said.

St. Thomas Republican Fred Vialet Jr. was honored at the election night party with an award from the RNC.

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel awarded the 77-year-old who advised Republican Gov. Melvin Evans, the first elected V.I. governor, with the national party’s Frederick Douglass Award.

“The Republican National Committee is honored to recognize Fred Vialet Jr. with the 2024 RNC Frederick Douglass Award for his lifetime of patriotic service and monumental contributions to our party,” said McDaniel. “Through his many decades of leadership guided by steadfast resolve, deep-rooted convictions, and tremendous efforts to expand the Republican Party in the Virgin Islands and beyond, Vialet embodies the remarkable qualities Frederick Douglass left as a legacy for us to follow.”

Vialet’s uncle, David Vialet, co-founded the Republican Party in the Virgin Islands in 1948. In 1952 the territorial party was chartered by the RNC as its state party for the Virgin Islands.

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