Candidates face off in U.S. Senate primary

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Voters are choosing the candidates who will face off in the U.S. Senate race in November. Four are vying for the Democratic nomination, while five are in the Republican primary.

On the Republican side, Mitch McConnell is trying for another term in what has already been three decades in the U.S. Senate, the minority leader since 2007, and longest-serving senator in Kentucky history. He's in a primary with four others, the biggest challenge likely from Louisville businessman, Matt Bevin. Whoever wins that race will face the winner of another crowded Democratic primary, with the favorite being Alison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell and Bevin both cast their ballot in Louisville Tuesday morning. McConnell is favored in polls to win the primary, despite a strong push from Bevin, who has been endorsed by tea party groups. Bevin has tried to link McConnell with big government, and has said he has not done enough to distance himself from President Obama.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Grimes is in a primary with three other challengers. The former Lexington attorney is expected to easily win over three others from Louisville. The WKYT-Herald Leader Bluegrass Poll has McConnell and Grimes both winning their respective primaries to face off in what is expected to be a close November race. The poll has Grimes with a 1% lead over McConnell, a toss up in what will be a nationally-watched fall race.

If Bevin were to pull off an upset Tuesday, Grimes would lead him by 3 percentage points in the fall, according to the poll.

The race for McConnell's senate seat is one of the most closely-watched races in the country, with some saying it's a barometer to see how much influence the Tea Party has in ousting long-time incumbent congressional Republicans.

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