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Delaware calls off Republican presidential primary after Haley removes name from ballot

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware's Republican presidential primary is over before it even began.

State lawmakers suspended the rules in the House and Senate on Tuesday to quickly pass legislation amending Delaware election law and allowing the scheduled April 2 primary to be called off. Democratic Gov. John Carney quickly added his signature.

Passage of the legislation was prompted by former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley's decision to suspend her campaign. Haley submitted her withdrawal from Delaware's primary ballot last Thursday, leaving Donald Trump as the only candidate.

However, lawmakers needed to pass a bill to recognize Haley's withdrawal, as it came past the deadline to do so. Under existing law, there is only one week between the filing deadline and the withdrawal deadline. This year, the deadline to file for the presidential primary was Feb. 2, and the deadline to withdraw was Feb. 9.

State Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence said the rule worked better when Delaware's presidential primary was held in early February, but lawmakers in 2011 moved the primary from February to April.

“Now that we have a much later primary and the contours of the campaigns have changed a lot, we find ourselves in a situation like this, where there is essentially no contest,” he told lawmakers.

Delaware's Democratic presidential primary had already been called off, as President Joe Biden was the only candidate to file.

State elections official estimate that cancelling the Republican primary will save taxpayers at least $1.5 million.