Judd taking more steps to 'seriously' explore Ky Senate bid

Judd taking more steps to 'seriously' explore Ky Senate bid

Judd taking more steps to 'seriously' explore Ky Senate bid


by Joe Arnold


Posted on December 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM

(WHAS11 Political Blog) -- Aware that a U.S. Senate bid would expose her personal life to intense scrutiny, film and television actress Ashley Judd is conducting opposition research on herself, according to Politico's Manu Raju.

It's a wise move, considering what any opponent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely encounter: 

“It’s going to sting,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, warned to any candidates considering a run. “We’re going to make sure that you don’t come out with your nose clean. We’re going to drive your negatives up and very aggressively and publicly litigate your record before the citizens of Kentucky.”

Benton did not comment on Judd, specifically.

First elected in 1984, McConnell is the longest serving U.S. Senator in Kentucky history.  Freshman U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is up for reelection in 2016, a race Democrats see as a more likely opportunity.
Judd's vocal opposition to mountain-top mining is regarded as a political liability in Kentucky, where the Obama administration's environmental policies are derided as a "war on coal."

Raju also reports that Judd, who has spoken with several Kentucky politicians about running for office here, has also  spoken with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in recent weeks.

Politico points out that Judd is an "eighth-generation Kentuckian," yet currently lives in Tennessee and Scotland.

Judd's residency "will become an issue if Sen McConnell in reelection decides he wants to make it an issue," said Bob Gunnell, a prominent Kentucky Democratic strategist, "And (McConnell has the money to do that, and he's known to be pretty vicious."

"I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I'm very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election," Judd said in a statement to WHAS11 on November 8, "So, let's focus on coming together to keep moving America's families, and especially our kids, forward."

A University of Kentucky graduate with a degree in French, Judd bleeds Kentucky blue, often attending and enthusiastically cheering Wildcat basketball games.

In November, WHAS11 News reported that the actress, a Barack Obama delegate at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, had been in conversations with influential Kentucky Democrats for months.

"All I know is that she is seriously taking the steps that she would need to do to explore a candidacy," U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said in November.  "I don't think she's ready to move to Kentucky, but she has such a connection to this state I don't think that would really be an issue."

Other potential Democratic candidates include:

* top Obama fundraiser and former ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun

* Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes

* Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Both Governor Steve Beshear and Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson said they will not run for U.S. Senate in 2014.  WHAS11 News also learned that national Democrats had attempted to recruit former Kentucky Auditor Crit Luallen for the Senate race.  Luallen, however, has ruled out a Senate bid.