Monday, February 18, 2013

Ashley Judd for Senate?

The actress is contemplating a run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The New York Times reports, "Kentuckians Don’t Rule Out a Star as a Potential Senator":

Ashley Judd
ASHLAND, Ky. — It would seem like a Republican fantasy: a famous actress, who has been described by her own grandmother as a Hollywood liberal, is floated as a Senate candidate in one of the country’s most conservative states, where she does not even live.

That is how Republican operatives gleefully seized on reports that the movie star Ashley Judd, who campaigned for President Obama, might challenge Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the United States Senate, when he is up for re-election next year.

“Ashley Judd — an Obama-following, radical Hollywood liberal” is how an attack ad put it, produced by a group led by the Republican strategist Karl Rove.

How serious could such a candidacy be? Plenty, it turns out.

“I would actually be surprised if she didn’t run right now,” said Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky. “She’s done everything a serious candidate would do.”

But even as Ms. Judd moved this week from a Republican chew toy to an increasingly likely candidate, Democrats in Kentucky fought publicly over whether she would be a viable challenger in 2014 to Mr. McConnell, or a serious liability.

Some Democratic strategists said her views were too far left of Kentucky voters, warning that she would drag down other Democrats on the state ballot.

“I say we place in peril our control of the State Legislature,” said Dale Emmons, a strategist who advised the last unsuccessful Democratic challenger to Mr. McConnell, in 2008.

He added, “Her Siamese twin will immediately be Barack Obama,” who lost Kentucky by 23 percentage points in November.

Another Kentucky-based consultant, James Cauley, said he began hearing fears from Kentucky officials last month when Ms. Judd attended the Bluegrass Ball in Washington during the inauguration, where she confirmed she was “taking a close look” at a run.

“People started saying, ‘Oh my God, she is serious,’ ” said Mr. Cauley, who managed Mr. Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign in Illinois. “One state legislator asked me to go to the White House and talk to Barack.”

Mr. Cauley demurred. He and the president are not close.
More at that top link.

And I wouldn't discount anything. Name recognition is a huge asset. Sure, Obama lost the state by double-digits, but we're in a strange era of celebrity politics. I just wouldn't discount this woman's chances.

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons.