Who might end up running against the powerful Kentucky Republican? None other than actress Ashley Judd.
Judd, who has appeared in movies ranging from Heat to A Time to Kill to Kiss the Girls, is also an eighth-generation Kentuckian, daughter of country singer Naomi Judd, and an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan. She was also a strong supporter of Barack Obama during the 2008 and 2012 elections, appearing at the 2012 Democratic National Convention to campaign on his behalf.
Recently, Judd has talked with Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., about a possible run, as well as met with a Democratic pollster and conducted market research to determine where her vulnerabilities may lie in Kentucky.
If she decided to run, she would likely be the biggest name to run for Senate since Al Franken won in 2008 for one of Minnesota’s seats. It would also add additional star power to a race that was already likely to draw plenty of media attention.
The difficulty for Judd is that McConnell is a powerful figure in the Republican party, able to raise plenty of cash for a re-election run. Judd is also unabashedly liberal, has never run for office, and could easily be seen as being out of touch with such a red state. More importantly, Judd does not currently live in Kentucky — she splits time between a farm in rural Tennessee and Scotland, where her husband, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti, is from.
Judd’s advantages lie in her name recognition, which could energize the Democratic base in Kentucky and enable her to raise lots of money. She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.
Some speculate the move is a way to keep competitive in the 2014 Senate race, while saving the Democratic party’s strongest candidates for 2015, when the governor’s election will be held. However, Judd has also been considering running in 2016, when freshman Sen. Rand Paul’s seat is up for re-election.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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