So, it looks like Ashley Judd is running in 2014. Tony Lee at Breitbart reported yesterday that she plans to formally announce her candidacy around the time of the Kentucky Derby.
Judd, who uses “winter” as a verb to describe vacations with celebrities like Bono, will seek to challenge incumbent Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Allies close to Judd said her candidacy is “a done deal” and told the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman that the liberal actress who has fiercely criticized mountain-top removal mining plans to announce her run “around Derby”–which means in early May, when the Kentucky Derby kicks off horse racing’s Triple Crown season.
Judd e-mailed Fineman on Saturday and wrote, “I am not sure who is saying this stuff, but it is not I! I’d prefer as a fan of your journalism that you stay accurate and credible. We told everyone who called us yesterday these stories are fabrications.”
She is reportedly working with New York pollster Jeffrey Pollock and has interviewed out-of-state media consultants like Anita Dunn, the former Obama adviser whose media relations firm represented Sandra Fluke in her phony “war on women” campaign, and leaders of the pro-abortion EMILY’s List.
The actress is also planning to officially move back to Lexington, Kentucky within the year because she must be a resident of Kentucky for at least a year before the November 2014 election date.
It looks as if her nomination is a done deal, as many of the formidable Democratic candidates are holding off until Kentucky’s gubernatorial election in 2015, according to Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post. However, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State, could be the only person Judd might have to fear due to her father’s Clinton connections.
Judd has some prominent backers in the state, led by Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville; Christy Brown, whose family controls the Brown-Forman distilling fortune; and Brown’s son-in-law Matthew Barzun, the former ambassador to Sweden (and probable future ambassador to the United Kingdom), who was Obama’s finance chairman in the 2012 campaign.
Normally a candidate such as Judd would have to fight through a difficult field of seasoned, and generally more conservative, Kentucky Democrats. But several of them are focused instead on the governor’s race in 2015, and others doubt whether they could beat the experienced and tough McConnell.
The Kentucky Democratic establishment gathered in Owensboro Wednesday night at a banquet — headlined by former President Bill Clinton — in Ford’s honor and much of the private talk centered on which Democrat, if any, could mount a primary challenge against Judd, whose candidacy many of them fear.
“We don’t really have anybody,” said one.
The most likely alternative is Alison Lundergan Grimes, the 34-year-old secretary of state. The well-connected daughter of former Democratic state chairman Jerry Lundergan, Grimes is polite, earnest and cautious. She recently worked to ensure that Kentuckians in the military serving abroad could vote electronically.
Her father was a prominent Clinton supporter, and the former president took time in Owensboro to privately advise Grimes and her father after the Ford event.
But asked by The Huffington Post whom he supported in the Kentucky U.S. Senate race, Clinton demurred. “I don’t know because I have to wait and see who gets in,” he said.
Some Democrats, here [in Kentucky] and in Washington, fear that Judd is just the kind of glamorous liberal the GOP loves to run against in Kentucky and across the country. Some are concerned that the GOP will make her candidacy a national cause.
But Judd is smart, feisty and charming, and probably can, as one local here put it, “out-Kentucky and out-country” the Louisville-based, owlishly professorial McConnell in a state where down-home, one-handshake-at-a-time style still matters.
Judd made her intentions clear at a private dinner last month at Brown’s Louisville home. Asked if she was tough enough to take on McConnell and the GOP national attack machine, Judd reportedly answered, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell.”