McConnell defeats Bevin, advances to showdown with Grimes - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

McConnell defeats Bevin, advances to showdown with Grimes

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Sen. Mitch McConnell Sen. Mitch McConnell
GOP chairman Steve Robertson GOP chairman Steve Robertson
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell wasted no time revealing his campaign strategy for the rest of the year on Tuesday: tie his opponent to an unpopular president, align himself with women and unify his fractured party.

McConnell cruised to a 60 percent to 36 percent primary election victory over Republican challenger Matt Bevin, a well-funded Louisville businessman whose campaign faltered in recent months during a series of missteps.

Afterward, he sought to win back Bevin's Tea Party supporters, many of whom are dissatisfied with McConnell's work.

"Matt brought a lot of passion and tenacity to this race and he made me a stronger candidate," McConnell told supporters at a campaign rally. "A tough race is behind us; it's time to unite."

McConnell spent the majority of his victory speech Tuesday attempting to paint his general election opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, as President Barack Obama's hand-picked candidate.

Obama and McConnell have similarly low approval ratings in Kentucky, and Grimes has resisted any links with the president. Instead, Grimes has suggested McConnell is waging a war on women and isn't supporting lower-income workers.

McConnell utilized his colleague, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, in a videotaped message Tuesday night. Paul, a favorite of the Tea Party, had endorsed McConnell and told supporters about needing to unify the party.

Turning out Tea Party supporters in November will be critical, state GOP chairman Steve Robertson said.

"These aggressive primaries are like the new normal in Kentucky politics," Robertson said, referencing Paul's victory in 2010. "We're getting much better at bringing everyone together (for the general election)."

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, who attended McConnell's event, said the same issues are important to Tea Party and establishment Republicans -- it's just the person delivering the message.

"The individuals I know best -- back in my (Eastern Kentucky) home -- I can assure you, they will be out supporting Mitch McConnell this fall," Stivers said. "Some of them, not many, were Bevin supporters, but they will be solidly behind Sen. McConnell."

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