Actress Ashley Judd says she's "ready to fight" beside Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state who announced Monday that she would challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year.
Monday's announcement by the 34-year-old Grimes came under criticism by several observers who described the event as disorganized and uninspiring.
Judd, who had considered the race herself, showed her support for Grimes in a tweet Tuesday.
Judd wrote, "Even in thick woods outstanding news filters through. Thrilled for the people of KY & ready to fight beside"
Judd, a former Kentucky resident now living in Tennessee, announced in March that she wouldn't run against the five-term Kentucky Republican. When Judd decided against a bid, Democratic leaders turned to Grimes as their candidate of choice.
It's safe to say this isn't the start Alison Lundergan Grimes--or her supporters--had in mind when they envisioned their effort to take out Kentucky's powerful senior U.S. Senator, Mitch McConnell.
Grimes ended months of speculation Monday afternoon when she announced she will seek the Democratic party's nomination for the 2014 Senate race. But in doing so, she raised as many questions as she answered.
One of Kentucky's best political reporters, Ryan Alessi of cn/2's "Pure Politics", says supporters who met with Grimes in Frankfort Monday before she announced her decision described the meeting as "unorthodox,” “unprecedented,” “fascinating” and, at times, “surreal.”
According to Alessi, Grimes seemed to be undecided on whether or not to run during the pre-announcement meeting, and asked those in attendance what they thought she should do. After meeting for nearly an hour, the consensus formed that Grimes should run for Senate.
Kentucky Democrats have lined up what they hope will be a formidable candidate to take on powerful Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in next year's campaign.
Ending months of speculation, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Monday afternoon that she will enter the 2014 U.S. Senate race.
“I’m here today to tell you that I have met with my supporters, we have had a great conversation and determined and decided that we can next make the best move, the best difference in the Commonwealth of Kentucky by running for the U.S. Senate,” she said.
Speaking in Frankfort to a room of supporters and reporters, Grimes said Kentuckians are tired of McConnell and what she described as his "28 years of obstructionism." She also chided McConnell for voting against increases in the minimum wage and for "losing touch with Kentucky issues, voters, and values."
Referencing the length of time it took for her to formally declare her entrance into the Senate contest, the 34-year-old Maysville native said she wasn't willing to join the race until she had done all of her homework.
“Make no mistake, members of the media, this due diligence was not reluctance, it was not hesitancy,” she said, “but rather a deliberate gathering of all the necessary facts to make a decision that’s not to be taken lightly.”
The announcement started more than 30 minutes later than it was scheduled, and lasted less than five minutes. Grimes answered only a few questions from reporters before leaving the stage.
Grimes has been Secretary of State since 2012. Before that, she was an attorney in Lexington. Grimes comes from a well-connected political family. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, served as chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and potential Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes are tied in a new poll of Kentucky voters, though state Republicans are calling the results a "sham."
The poll, by Public Policy Polling, stated that McConnell and Grimes were each supported by 45 percent of Kentucky voters. In April, a PPP poll showed Grimes trailing by 4 points. In December, she trailed by 7 points.
The PPP poll was paid for by the Senate Majority PAC, an organization founded with the help of Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the current majority leader.
Republicans are characterizing the results as "push polling"—a poll that tries to influence answers through the questions asked.
The PPP poll's critics say the questions directly comment about McConnell, his tenure in the Senate or some of his votes, rather than asking more simple questions as scientific polls often do.
A Politico profile of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign describes the effort as using a "scorched earth" policy against any potential challengers.
McConnell has already aired $200,000 in TV and radio ads and has approached state Republican lawmakers in the state in an effort to "lock down" support in his party. The U.S. Senate Minority Leader could potentially face a primary challenge from the right, in addition to a potentially well-funded Democratic opponent in the general election.
With actress Ashley Judd announcing this week that she will not challenge McConnell, many political observers will now renew their focus on the possible Senate candidacy of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Actress Ashley Judd announced on Twitter Wednesday that she will not run for U.S. Senate in 2014. She had been rumored to be considering a run against Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
In a series of posts, the Kentucky native and current Tennessee resident said "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate."
"I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work... as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth."
It's likely that with Judd's announcement there will be increased attention on Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a potential Senate challenger many establishment Democrats favored over Judd in the first place.
Kentuckians have 590 days-plus before the 2014 general election, but already the political chatter is centered on potential challengers to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell—chiefly actress Ashley Judd and her potential candidacy's supposed strengths and weaknesses.
But Judd isn't the only possible candidate. Many veteran Kentucky political operatives—not to mention rural Democrats—are pushing a prospective Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes candidacy over Judd's. And some Tea Party groups are pushing Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin as a possible challenger to McConnell in the Republican primary.
With so many stories, quotes and talk flying around on these three candidates, here's a look at the positives and negatives that each could bring to the table in 2014. The list is by no means exhaustive, but's a reflection of what's being said publicly and privately in Kentucky and national political circles.
* Near universal name recognition. Supporters point out that Judd's work as an actress, plus as a prominent University of Kentucky basketball fan, gives her the best name ID of any candidate rumored in the race. And they point out that good name ID leaves more money to use on things other than introductory ads.
High-ranking members of the Democratic Party—including a former President—are reportedly trying to convince a new candidate to challenge Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell next year. Some Democrats are concerned about the potential candidacy of actress Ashley Judd, who has been the subject of intense media speculation lately.
According to a report in Politico, some prominent Democrats are trying to convince Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to launch a Senate campaign. The 34-year-old Grimes comes from a family with deep connections to Kentucky Democratic Party politics.
The online political journal says former President Bill Clinton met with Grimes for 35 minutes in Owensboro earlier this month, when Clinton was in town for a fundraiser benefitting the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center. Grimes has also reportedly met with officials from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.