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Donald Trump claims third 2016 victory with Nevada GOP caucus win

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump emerged the winner of the Nevada Republican caucus on Tuesday, his third straight win in three primaries.

Official numbers were not in by 10 p.m. Tuesday, but The Associated Press, as well as other national news outlets, projected Trump to take the victory after calling the race at midnight Eastern time.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came in second to the businessman, with 25 percent of votes on Tuesday night. In Arizona, the senator is nipping at the heels of Trump, who still holds a lead with Arizona Republicans.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who stunned the nation by beating Trump in the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1, came in third.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio tweeted in support of the businessman, saying he spoke at a Vegas rally on Tuesday.

The few preference polls taken had Trump leading going in to Tuesday’s vote, with the billionaire himself even joking the caucus was a foregone conclusion.

“Maybe I don’t even have to go there and campaign, I don’t know,” Trump said with a smile last week at the Sun City retirement community in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Despite perceived shortcomings in Trump’s ground game, enthusiasm for the GOP hopeful ran high in the buildup to the caucus.

“He’s willing to fight, and our Republican Party is so unwilling to fight,” Nevada Republican legislator Brent Jones said. “The GOP just caves, caves, caves.”

John Galardi, 73, a Republican from Las Vegas who is retired from a construction company, said a Trump campaign-run caucus training session he attended drew between 40-50 people. Other Nevadans changed their registration to Republicans so they could vote for Trump and participated in a similar training.

Galardi said he was confused about taking place in his first-ever caucus, but knew how he felt about Trump.

“I like everything about him,” he said. “He’s giving American pride back.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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