Utah Republicans defeated an "outstanding conservative" in Sen. Bob
Bennett (R-Utah) this past weekend, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: Trump threatens to leave ObamaCare in place if GOP bill fails Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline Chao: Trump tapped into 'a strain of anxiety,' 'fear' MORE
(Ky.) said Monday.
McConnell lamented Utah conservatives' decision at a party convention on Saturday not to renominate Bennett as the GOP's Senate candidate in the state.
Bennett had served as a member of the Senate Republican leadership as counsel to McConnell, and was considered a top ally of the minority leader.
"It is the only state in the country where you don't have a way to get on the ballot unless you go through a convention," McConnell said, noting the unusual circumstance in which Bennett was defeated without a statewide primary vote.
Utah delegates voted for businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes Healthcare fight pits Trump against Club for Growth MORE ahead of Bennett, and the two will face off in a June 22 primary.
Still, McConnell warned: "I'm not sure we can read too much into it."
The Kentucky Republican said the same of his home state, where Secretary of State Trey Grayson, whom McConnell endorsed, is running in a GOP primary against physician Rand PaulRand PaulPaul: Pence should oversee Senate ObamaCare repeal votes Healthcare fight pits Trump against Club for Growth GOP rep: Trump could be 'one-term president' if healthcare bill passes MORE, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who's won increased support from state conservatives.
"We've got a unity rally scheduled for the Saturday after the Tuesday primary," McConnell said, downplaying the reported rifts in the state over the race. "I think there's an excellent chance that Kentucky will keep this seat in Republican hands."