According to Joshua Miller’s February 13 piece on Roll Call, an Ashley Judd senate candidacy would give Kentucky Democrats “heartburn.”
…for many Bluegrass State Democrats, a potential Judd run brings a different feeling: heartburn.
“If she runs, I think that it would be a catastrophe for a lot of downballot races in Kentucky,” said Jimmy Cauley, a longtime Kentucky Democratic strategist who doesn’t believe Judd can win a general election. Among Democratic state legislators, he said, “there is significant worry about Ashley being on the ballot.”
Democrats plugged into the Frankfort, Ky., zeitgeist publicly and privately confirmed those sentiments. The crux of their worry is this: As a celebrity and strong supporter of President Barack Obama, Judd’s position at the top of the ticket could nationalize state and local races. They see her losing the Senate contest — an uphill climb for any Democrat — and potentially poisoning the conservative brand of some state Democrats.
For years, the Kentucky Democratic Party has racked up significant successes at the state and local level, from the governor’s mansion down the ballot. But in federal elections, Republicans have won victory after victory. In November, Obama lost the state, winning less than 38 percent of the vote.
However, Judd has one ally in Rep. John Yarmuth, who pitched her name last year, and has since been her “cheerleader,” according to Miller. He scolds his fellow party members for not having a better candidate in mind to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014. However, Yarmuth’s support for Judd is creating some tension.
If John Yarmuth wants to be highest ranking Democrat in the state of Kentucky, he should keep pushing Ashley Judd,” Cauley said. “Because we will lose the Legislature and we will lose the governor’s office and he’ll be the only one left.”
Yarmuth called Cauley’s comments “outrageous” and untrue. “We’re not going to lose control of Frankfort,” the four-term lawmaker said.
So, let the Democratic infighting over Ashley Judd begin. One thing is for sure, and that is Sen. McConell must be loving this spectacle. His approval rating sits at a paltry 37% amongst Kentucky voters, and he’s the most unpopular senator currently serving in the U.S. Senate. He would beat Ashley Judd 47%-43%, but that’s too close for comfort for an incumbent.