Actress Ashley Judd is reportedly mulling a run for the US Senate against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
The Hollywood movie star and eighth-generation Kentuckian is seriously exploring a 2014 run for the Senate to take on the powerful Republican leader, four people familiar with the matter tell POLITICO. In recent weeks, Judd has spoken with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) about the possibility of a run, has discussed a potential bid with a Democratic pollster and has begun to conduct opposition research on herself to see where she’s most vulnerable in the Bluegrass State, sources say.
So, she’s forcing herself to watch her movies?
Whether Judd jumps into the race remains far from certain. She’s reportedly also weighing whether to wait until 2016 to instead take on freshman Sen. Rand Paul, sources say.
But if Judd does become a candidate, she would be the biggest celebrity to run for the Senate since Al Franken’s successful 2008 bid for the Minnesota seat. And her entrance would add a level of star power to a race that was already poised to be the highest-profile in the country with the Senate Republican leader up for a sixth term in 2014.
“She is doing all the things that a serious candidate exploring a race should do,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) told POLITICO after speaking with her. “I think there are a lot of people, and I was one of them, who wanted to let her know that her candidacy would be an exciting prospect for us. That’s what I wanted her to know. A lot of the labor unions, they were telling me that too.”
Ashley Judd is an attractive but middling actress who, to put it politely, it not famous for her intellect. She’s primarily known for getting naked in movies, which would add an odd twist to a Senate race, as most of her potential constituents have probably seen her in her birthday suit. Though she is from Kentucky, she is no longer of Kentucky, having left the Bluegrass State for Hollywood and its values years ago. Judd didn’t just leave geographic Kentucky, she left behind what makes Kentucky Kentucky. She’s also known for posing as an intellectual while actually being a lightweight, as many Hollywood actors do. She is known for taking a Hollywood extremist line on environmental causes. She has taken stands against coal, and Kentucky is very much a coal state. I’m sorry, but those are the facts, and it’s fair game to hold her professional and personal choices against her.
Judd’s mulling a run, and the Democrats’ embrace of her potential run, is a sign of arrogance. Ronald Reagan, she is not. Judd does not have the political firepower that Reagan worked hard and built up, however well she will undoubtedly read lines in her ads and recite her speeches on the stump. Whereas Reagan spent years outside the limelight and off the stage as a union leader and thinker, developing his politics across decades and putting them into practice as governor of a huge state, Judd has recited lines, penned a few columns and generally done nothing very serious about much of anything. That makes her a perfect Democrat in this day and age.
Kentucky is not California. Or Minnesota, that matter, which has elected both loudmouth wrestler Jesse Ventura and barely humorous comedian Al Franken to public office. Kentucky is probably a bit more resistant to celebrity infatuation than most states. Kentucky bravely resisted Barack Obama’s star power in 2008 and in 2012. If Obama couldn’t fool Kentuckians, why would Ashley Judd?
Judd’s run for the Senate would tell us a few things about America. It would help us calibrate where reason and reality still matter, and where they don’t. If she runs and loses, she’ll blame it on “the patriarchy” or some such nonsense, but she would be losing because she is not a serious person, and average Americans in flyover country would be showing that they still hold values, ideas and a few other things above celebrity. It might chasten the celebrity-addicted Democrats and would certainly humiliate an actress who thinks too highly of herself. On the other hand, if she runs and wins in a place like Kentucky, we’re done as a nation. Done. If that’s the case, we might as well know it and figure out how to deal with it.