Primary elections in six states Tuesday proved again that money is one of the best predictors of politics, with self-funded candidates advancing in Georgia and Pennsylvania and the well-heeled Republican establishment helping Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell crush a tea-party newcomer in Kentucky.
McConnell defeated businessman Matt Bevin by nearly a 2-1 margin; the Associated Press called the race minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m. The 72-year-old Senate veteran will now battle for his sixth term against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who handily won the Democratic primary.
The stages also were set Tuesday for two other Senate races expected to be closely contested, in Arkansas and Oregon. Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and GOP Rep. Tom Cotton both were uncontested in their primaries and are headed for a November showdown in Arkansas. In Oregon, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley was renominated and will face Republican neurosurgeon Monica Wehby in the fall after her primary win.
Another heated Senate race — for an open seat in Georgia — saw the field narrowed Tuesday, but the Republican candidate won't be determined until a July 22 runoff is held between businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston. Perdue was declared the top vote-getter Tuesday night with about 30 percent, while Kingston and former Secretary of State Karen Handel were neck-and-neck for second place and the right to move into the runoff until late in the night. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun were far behind and are out of the runoff along with three other GOP candidates.