To date, the chatter over who'll challenge U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014 has centered around actress/activist Ashley Judd. And, if not Judd, then Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. A top Kentucky Democrat is saying that McConnell's Democratic challenger will be neither of the women.
In a recent interview, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Judd's candidacy would face an obstacle from her position against mountaintop removal coal mining. In fact, he said her name shouldn't even be in discussion.
“I don’t think she runs at all and given her position on mining, it would probably be a race that Democrats like myself would have trouble supporting her,“ Stumbo said.
That leaves Grimes, who was elected Kentucky secretary of state in 2011 and is the daughter of former state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan.
Grimes and Stumbo are close political allies -- and Stumbo said she is unlikely to run in 2014.
Stumbo said she’s interested in a different statewide office in 2015.
“... I don’t think she’s in that race, I don’t think she has any indication or she hasn’t given me any indication that’s something she’s seriously considering," Stumbo said of Grimes.
"I think she will probably choose another race at the state level. I don’t think she’ll run again for secretary of state."
Political observers say Grimes could possibility team up with Stumbo on a gubernatorial slate in 2015 or run for the open attorney general office in that same year.
Stumbo has been a force in the Kentucky Democratic Party for years.
He's familiar with the task of taking on McConnell, the Senate minority leader who has represented Kentucky since 1985. Stumbo said he considered running against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell himself in 2007. Stumbo said he planned to take his campaign to places where McConnell had neglected to go, but instead returned to the state House of Representatives after a stint as attorney general. Soon after, Stumbo became House speaker.
To be clear -- Stumbo said he won't challenge McConnell in 2014. He said he thinks a younger Democrat should do it.
If not Judd or Grimes, then who?
Attorney General Jack Conway would be a good candidate, Stumbo suggested. But Conway has repeatedly shut down calls for him to run in 2014.
Other high profile Democrats who have declined to challenge McConnell include former Auditor Crit Luallen, current Auditor Adam Edelen and Gov. Steve Beshear.