Utah Republicans defeated an "outstanding conservative" in Sen. Bob
Bennett (R-Utah) this past weekend, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' 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 LeeLessons from the godfather of regulatory budgeting Congress must reform civil asset forfeiture laws A guide to the committees: Senate 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 PaulConquering Trump returns to conservative summit Rand Paul rejects label of 'Trump's most loyal stooge' GOP healthcare plans push health savings account expansion 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."