Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell had been pulling away from primary challenger Matt Bevin for the last couple months of the Kentucky GOP Senate primary, and he triumphed easily tonight, with news organizations calling the win for him soon after polls closed. He’s leading 60 percent to 35 with 27 percent of precincts reporting.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, a Jim DeMint–linked outside group that’s backed a number of tea-party candidates, had made Bevin one of their key candidates this year, hoping to unseat the minority leader. (SCF-endorsed Ben Sasse triumphed in the Nebraska Republican Senate primary two weeks ago.) But after McConnell triumphed tonight, SCF was quick to endorse his general-election effort, releasing the following statement from executive director Matt Hoskins:
We congratulate Senator McConnell on his victory and urge Republicans in Kentucky to come together to defeat Alison Lundergan Grimes. We thank Matt Bevin for standing up for conservative principles and giving voters a choice in this race. Now it’s time for Republicans to unite for victory in November.
Bevin, a successful businessman, never saw his fundraising take off, and didn’t put as much of his personal money into the race as some had expected him to.
McConnell will face Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state. The most recent polling has them more or less tied, both below 50 percent, though most expect McConnell will strengthen when he can direct his attention undivided toward the general election.