Ashley Judd will not run for Senate, Grimes to explore race


by Joe Arnold

Posted on March 28, 2013 at 6:36 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 28 at 7:50 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) --(WHAS11) -- After flirting with the 2014 Kentucky senate race for five months, actress and activist Ashley Judd left Kentucky democrats at the altar Wednesday, announcing her decision not to run.

WHAS11 political editor Joe Arnold broke the news as Judd released her announcement in a series of tweets. 

Judd said she needs to focus on her family.  Two months ago, she announced she was getting a divorce.  She and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti have no children.

According to Judd’s statement she is “regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate. I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader.”

Read Judd's full statement here.

Judd said though she is not that person "this time," she will continue to work to put a democrat in Mitch McConnell's senate seat and thanked supporters for considering her.

One of those supporters is former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Jonathan Miller.  Judd broke the news to him by phone.

"This is not the phone call I was hoping for, but I told her I completely understand.  When we spoke about the prospects of a McConnell race last summer, the caveat of how great a candidate and how great a senator she would be is that running for any political race is a gruesome prospect.  Running against Mitch McConnell would be an extraordinarily difficult, grueling two years of her life," Miller said during a phone interview. "I really do believe this is not the last we've heard of Ashley Judd."

Despite her decision not to run, Judd did get a little got a taste of what to expect if she did run via an online attack ad produced by Karl Rove's Crossroads Super Pac and a McConnell campaign video poking fun at democrats struggles to find a candidate.

So, who is the likely democratic candidate now?

The odds on favorite is Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes. She's only been in office for just over a year, but her inexperience also means she has less baggage for McConnell to exploit.

Former President Bill Clinton, a close friend of the Lundergan family, encouraged both Ashley Judd and Grimes to run in the race, story here.

Judd has decades of controversial statements but Grimes, who is the daughter of the former head of the Kentucky Democratic Party, has been groomed for higher office.  The only question when she will run.

Sources said Grimes has been in contact with national Democratic Campaign officials and she plans to file paperwork to form an exploratory committee as early as next week. Ashley Judd will not run for U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 2016.

Some voters said they were disappointed to see Judd bow out.

Sterling Lapinski said, "Yeah, I'm a little disappointed. I think it would've been fun to see her run. I'm not sure she was really ready for the rigors of the political race, but it would've made for good entertainment."

While others didn’t really believe she was in it to begin with. That maybe it was a case of the internet getting carried away.

"Anybody says anything it's immediately on there. I'm a put your money where your mouth is kind of guy," Carl Thomas said.

The following is a statement from Bennie J. Smith (D-KY) for U.S. Senator 2014:

GIVING FULL HONOR AND GLORY TO THE CREATOR...I just wanted to take this time out to send my heartfelt support to Ms. Ashley Judd for making a gut-wrenching decision to not seek the Democratic nomination in the U.S. SENATE race against Republican incumbent Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell.  She certainly stirred some "EXCITEMENT" and put "THE FEAR OF GOD" in Mr. McConnell as evidenced by his early campaign efforts.  However, I believe deep down she wanted to run the BEST race she possibly could, but with family, personal and professional concerns, I'm sure she felt she wouldn't be able to focus and give her best.... She's a very loving and caring spirit who cares deeply for ALL the citizens in KENTUCKY...and I wish her well in her future professional and personal career.  As a matter of fact, I hope I get a chance to meet her soon to reach out and solicit her support since I have also exprssed interest in running for U.S. SENATOR and have taken similar actions to reach out to certain leaders in the DEMOCRATIC PARTY to make them aware of my intentions...