Ashley Judd could run for Senate in her home state of Kentucky despite previous evidence to the contrary, according to reports. The liberal actress and eighth-generation Kentuckian has been reaching out to political contacts, which could point to her competition for Republican Mitch McConnell's seat in 2014.
"I do receive a lot of encouragement to run," she said at an event hosted by EMILY's List and Marie Claire magazine. "And my deepest desire is to be useful. I want to help serve my fellow [citizens]. And I may be doing that to the best of my capacity … in the space I'm operating in. Or it may be time to look at possibly running for office."
To that effect, she has spoken to Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock, according to Politico. They both declined to comment on the contents of their conversation. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), however, was more willing to speak after talking to Judd.
"She is doing all the things that a serious candidate exploring a race should do," he told Politico. "I think there are a lot of people … who wanted to let her know that her candidacy would be an exciting prospect for us. … A lot of the labor unions, they were telling me that too."
Despite the positives of running for Senate for Democrats- Judd could raise a lot of money from out-of-state sources, she has high name recognition, and she was described by her grandmother as a "Hollywood liberal"- the negatives could squash her chances before anything gets underway.
Judd no longer lives in Kentucky, and the state is extremely right-leaning, giving President Obama just 38 percent of the vote last election. Rarely have entertainers won statewide elections without first being involved in local politics, The Washington Post pointed out. And the one local issue Judd has been involved in- she is against mountaintop-removal coal mining- could be spun as anti-coal in a very pro-coal state.
Furthermore, her opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell, didn't get to be Minority Leader for nothing. He is far more experience in politics than she, and his representative was eager to highlight that fact.
"It's going to sting. We're going to make sure that you don't come out with your nose clean," Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, told Politico regarding any eventual opponents. "We're going to drive your negatives up and very aggressively and publicly litigate your record before the citizens of Kentucky."
44-year-old Judd has begun finding prospective supporters and conducting opposition research, according to Politico. The actress' representative, though, has only reiterated that she is "very honored" by the attention to a prospective campaign, and has not yet decided to run.