Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell claimed victory over his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in the Kentucky Senate race Tuesday night, paving the way for the longtime senator to ascend to majority leader after his party took the Senate.
Fox News projected McConnell had defeated Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, shortly after polls closed at 7:00 p.m. ET. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, McConnell led Grimes 56 percent to 41 percent.
"I work hard to bring your concerns to Washington and I will not let up," McConnell told a cheering crowd at a victory party in Louisville Tuesday night.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid congratulated McConnell on the Republican victory in a statement Tuesday night.
"The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together," Reid, D-Nev., said. "I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class."
McConnell’s victory came after a brutal campaign between the rivals, who did not stop trading accusations and jabs until the bitter end.
In a brief concession speech Tuesday, Grimes told her supporters she had fought "for each and every one of you."
"I will work my hardest to keep this amazing organization that we have built together intact to fight for a brighter, better future," she said.
McConnell consistently hammered a simple message about Grimes and led by more than 7 points going into Tuesday.
He dismissed Grimes as an inexperienced rubberstamp for President Obama's failed agenda, on everything from ObamaCare to energy policies and the economy to national security. McConnell has mediocre approval ratings in the state but Obama's are even lower.
Grimes consistently slammed McConnell as a right-wing Washington obstructionist in the pockets of big corporate interests.
McConnell said after his win that he hopes to work with the president "on issues where we can agree."
"For too long this administration has tried to tell the American people what's good for them," he said. "And then blame someone else when their policies don't work out. Tonight Kentucky rejected that approach. Tonight Kentuckians said we can do better as a nation."
Democrats poured millions of dollars into the state to defeat McConnell. A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told FoxNews.com in October that defeating McConnell was "absolutely" one of the party's main priorities this election cycle.
Grimes brought the race close at one point during the campaign, but made a series of mistakes along the way.
Most notably, she refused to say whether she voted for President Obama in 2012, despite being a delegate for him at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that nominated him.