McConnel Cruises in Ky. Primary
May 20, 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell easily defeated his tea party-inspired Republican primary challenger in Kentucky on Tuesday, one of the biggest primary days of 2014.

The McConnell win, called almost immediately after polls finished closing, is a boost to the GOP establishment on a night that is expected to favor that wing of the party and incumbents generally. The senator led his GOP challenger, Matt Bevin, 62 percent to 33 percent, with only 7 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.

McConnell, 72, had been polling well ahead of the 47-year-old Bevin, who was aided by more than $1 million in spending from outside conservative groups but made several mistakes and faced an onslaught of attacks from the veteran incumbent. McConnell now goes on to face Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic nominee who skated in her primary and is considered a formidable general election candidate.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, one of the groups that poured money into Bevin’s campaign, issued a statement late Tuesday congratulating McConnell, thanking Bevin for “standing up for conservative principles” and calling for Republicans to “unite” in the fight against Grimes. But Bevin himself has not said if he would support McConnell, though he has pledged not to back the Democrat come November.