LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning for primary day in Kentucky, and for the first time, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell has a major opponent on the Republican ballot.
McConnell and challenger Matt Bevin spent Monday hopping across the state in an effort to round up votes.
Matt Bevin has spent more than $3 million to try to knock off the five-term incumbent and Senate Minority Leader.
But McConnell is already looking past Bevin and focusing on the fall campaign.
A crowd of supporters welcomed McConnell and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, as they launched their primary-eve blitz.
Polls show McConnell with a double-digit lead over Bevin, and it's clear he's already looking towards a fall showdown with likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes.
"Right here in Kentucky, the biggest race in the country because of the extra job my colleagues have given me as Republican leader of the Senate. You might say that I'm raising money for both sides. She's able to raise money because she's running against me. I'm able to raise money because I am me," said McConnell as the crowd laughed.
But McConnell knows it's no joke that national Democrats have placed a large target on his back.
"There's nothing the President and his allies would like better than to defeat the guy you're looking at," he said.
But Bevin insists McConnell won't even make it to the fall election.
He expects to pull the upset because the same polls that show him trailing in the race also show dissatisfaction with McConnell.
"Those very same polls show that there's somewhere between a 30 and 38-percent approval rating for Mitch McConnell, and that's every one of those polls that's been taken for the last two years. So, people are weary. They're fatigued of him," said Bevin.
But the question for Bevin is whether Republicans are fatigued enough to replace the man who could be the next Senate Majority Leader.
"We'll find out," Bevin said. "Because, I'll tell you, if there's not, then we are going to lose this seat. The odds of us keeping this seat in November with the absolute dispassion that exists for Mitch McConnell is slim to none."
But McConnell's message as he flies around the state on primary-eve is that he's the only one who can stand in the way of an unpopular president and the policies that, McConnell says, hurt Kentucky.
"This is going to be a big race with big consequences. It's important to America and important to Kentucky," McConnell said.
McConnell did not take questions from the press.
Bevin was planning a four-city fly-around Monday, beginning that in Bowling Green and ending tonight in Louisville.
Grimes is wrapping-up a 10-day, 50-county bus tour. She stops in Louisville tonight to officially open her campaign office.
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