Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell handily defeated tea party favorite Matt Bevin in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary Tuesday night. With 7 percent of the state's precincts in, McConnell leads Bevin by nearly 30 percent of the vote.
The Associated Press called the race shortly after polls closed in the state, a result that probably would have seemed unlikely when Bevin first declared his intention to run. McConnell was a major target for conservative groups unhappy with the Republican establishment, but, for reasons we articulated earlier today, Bevin never found much traction.
On the Democratic side, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes won an essentially uncontested primary for the state's Senate seat, earning over three-quarters of the votes at this point in the tally. Grimes was the only candidate to raise any substantial money for a campaign, as the Louisville Courier-Journal noted Tuesday.
It's worth remembering, though, that Tuesday night's Democratic primary could have been much more interesting to observers from outside the state. In March of last year, it seemed very possible that the front-running Democratic candidate would be actress Ashley Judd. Instead, Judd spent the past year finishing shooting on Dolphin Tale 2, among other projects.
McConnell, who is seeking his sixth term, will apparently face much more difficult challenges in his next two elections. First, he needs to defeat Grimes in the November general election, a race that continues to be fairly tight. Then he needs to be reelected as Republican leader in the Senate. Based on the energy that Bevin once enjoyed, that likely won't be easy either.