Ky. voters react as Judd's liberal positions are detailed


by Joe Arnold

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 26 at 10:22 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- After two decades in front of the camera as an actress and more recently as an activist, Ashley Judd has been unguarded in her comments -- a candor which might cause complications if she runs for U.S. Senate from Kentucky.

As Judd inches closer to a decision, her outspoken nature is yielding decades of pointed and controversial comments which Kentucky Democratic strategists concede are a gold mine for the campaign of potential opponent, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R).

Judd's essays and speeches are easily accessible on her website.

In one, she criticized the tradition of a father giving away a daughter at a wedding - which she calls "a common vestige of male dominion over a woman's reproductive status."

Judd also criticized the practice of women taking the name of their husband's families "into which they have effectively been traded."

"Out in the state, I don't think that will go over well at all," said Greg Hahn of Louisville.  "It might go over well in the larger cities."

"I'm not sure quite how to answer that," said Angie Ellis of Valley Station. "I think a mother can give away a daughter - same as a man."

Judd also wrote that Christianity legitimizes male power over women.

In 2006, when Judd was asked about her decision not to have children, she was quoted as saying "it's unconscionable to breed, with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries."

"I don't know - I'm speechless," Hahn said.

"I would not, not have children because of that because you're taking something away from yourself as being a mother," Ellis added.

Conservative Kentucky Democrats are also concerned Judd's political views are out of step with most Kentucky voters and may be a drag on down ballot races if Judd tops the Democratic ticket in 2014.

Judd is a passionate advocate for President Barack Obama who garnered only 38 percent of  Kentucky's popular vote in the 2012 election.

In a speech to Tennessee Democrats, Judd complained that the Democratic Party was not liberal enough.

"It is my belief that the party has faltered because it has moved towards the center away from its base," Judd said in the speech posted on her website, "tried to capture uncommitted voters at the center betraying the larger group on the left, which is committed to issues, but who now don’t believe anything will change. If the party would get back to its roots, embrace its once passionate but now disenfranchised base, re-find the courage of its conviction, THINGS WOULD CHANGE.” 

"It's clearly very liberal and I don't think it will play very well in Kentucky at all," Hahn said.

Ellis, however, suggested voter fatigue may trump ideology in 2014.

"MItch has been there for so long he's kind of forgotten the people," Ellis said. "And I think if someone like her got in they would go back and remember some of the reasons that we put the people there for."

On gun control, Judd tweeted, "Thank you, Mr President: 'Weapons designed for soldiers and the theatre of war do not belong on the streets.'"

"The era of coal plant is over, unacceptable," Judd tweeted in October.  She has also railed against the coal-mining practice of mountain-top removal in her native eastern Kentucky, calling it "environmental genocide.” 

Coal is a politically sensitive issue in Kentucky.  Democratic Governor Steve Beshear has called for the Obama administation's EPA to "get off our backs."  And, eastern Kentucky Democrats have expressed  concerns about Judd's position.

Judd would need to move back to Kentucky by November to be eligible to run against McConnell in 2014.

Despite her passion for University of Kentucky men's basketball (Judd attends many games in Lexington and tweets often about the Wildcats), she has repeatedly identified Tennessee as her home and was a Tenneesee delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

"You live in America, don't you?" asked CBS talk show host Craig Fergsuson.

"We're in between Tennessee and Scotland," Judd responded.

Yet, to some Kentucky voters, it matters less who Ashley Judd is than who she isn't.

"I think they're looking for someone to run against Mitch to change some of the things in Congress," Ellis said.  "whether it be Ashley or someone else, a woman or a man."