Yarmuth would be 'surprised' if Judd does not enter Ky. Senate race


by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 12, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 12 at 6:35 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Actress Ashley Judd's most enthusiastic public supporter as she considers whether to run for the U.S. Senate tells WHAS11 he "would be surprised if she didn't run at this point," and expects a decision in the next month.

Speculation of Judd's interest in challenging five-term incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the Senate Republican Leader, has been building for several months.  The Tennessee resident has only given slight public hints, however.

“I think, I would actually be surprised if she didn't run at this point,” U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D) said. 

An attack ad produced by Karl Rove's American Crossroads Super PAC may turn out to be a defining moment.

“I think her response to those ads indicates to me that she's got a professional team working with her and that she is looking forward to a fight,” Yarmuth said.

Judd's first response, through her publicist, was to thank "McConnell, Karl Rove, and their negative allies for all the attention as she considers her future political plans."

But, Judd's next move may be even more telling.

On her Twitter account, Judd has invited her 158,000 Twitter followers to sign up to be on her mailing list. Such a database is campaign gold.

Judd also tweeted, "you'll be the first to know, well, all sorts of things."

“She is doing everything a serious candidate would do to explore a race,” Yarmuth said. “And I suspect we're going to know something within a relatively short period of time. Because I think if she doesn't run, and I think she knows this, if she decides not to run, she needs to get out of the way so others can make their plans.

Yarmuth tells WHAS11 Judd needs to make a decision within the next month. And he says the ad also reveals the McConnell's camp's thinking.

“That the senator is very vulnerable and secondly that Ashley Judd would be a very, very difficult candidate to run against,” Yarmuth said.

Meanwhile, real estate mogul Donald Trump is also chiming in, calling Rove a "total loser."

"Karl Rove's ad is the best thing that ever happened to Ashley Judd," Trump tweeted.  "Simply increases her profile."

McConnell's campaign manager says they are not speculating on potential challengers.

"President Obama and out-of-state liberals are chomping at the bit to pump in big money, so we will be ready for all comers,' said Jesse Benton in a statement to WHAS11.

"Congressman Yarmuth continues his unhealthy obsession with Leader McConnell," Benton continued, "I suppose he has declined my offer to pay his filing fee and get into the race himself, but the offer is still on the table."

Meanwhile, Judd's tweets about UK basketball hit a bipartisan note over the weekend as she welcomed House Speaker John Boehner to Rupp Arena. She tweeted this at the time: "I hope you enjoy the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball. Go 'Cats!"