Relying heavily on his experience and name recognition, former governor Lamar Alexander defeated U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tenn., Thursday in the state primaries.
After counting 87 percent of the precincts, Alexander received 53 percent of the votes to Bryant's 44 percent.
Alexander, a former Secretary of Education and two-time governor of Tennessee, said he was the candidate Tennesseans long trusted.
"Thank you for a chance to carry our banner as we support our president, as we support our country, as we support our values," Alexander told the Associated Press.
Josh Holly, deputy press secretary for Alexander, said the party would be unified after the election.
"(We're going to) start gearing up for the general election," Holly said. "We've only got three quick months until then. We will join together (the Republican party) to beat Bob Clement."
Speaking on the race, Holly said the primaries "are good family discussions."
"We won't let up much until we get to November," he said.
Holly felt the Republicans have an advantage after having fought a tough race, because Clement has not "had the opportunity to go out into the field and recruit people."
"We have two sides geared up, ready to go, and we're organized in all these counties," he said.
The primary was for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Fred Thompson.
During the race, Bryant tried to portray Alexander as too liberal and as a politician past his prime.
At the same time, Alexander reminded voters in his 12-stop, three-day "Tennessee Auto Jobs Caravan" that he had helped to bring Saturn and Nissan here when he was governor. He also said he was the only Republican in the race that leads Democratic front-runner Clement.
Clement plans to push corporate accountability as the major issue against Alexander, who has served on numerous corporate boards.
"He hasn't been active in Tennessee in over 20 years," he said to the Associated Press. "Maybe the people in Iowa and New Hampshire know more about him than the people of Tennessee."
The primary race got dirty after Bryant ran an ad that said, "Don't be plaid. Be solid for Bryant."
"From the very beginning, my opponent has been talking about me far more than himself," Alexander said to the Kingsport Times News. "And I tried to ignore that most of the time and run a positive, issue-oriented campaign."
But Alexander soon relented and fired back at Bryant, creating an especially painful race for Republicans.