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.
Talk of Tennessee resident Ashley Judd running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky has turned up ambiguity in residency requirements that a state legislative leader says needs to be cleared up.
The U.S. Constitution requires only that Senate candidates be residents of the state they would represent "when elected." But Kentucky election law raises questions about whether candidates can have their names placed on ballots if they're not registered to vote in Kentucky. And only legal residents can be registered to vote.
Kentucky state Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer said Tuesday the issue has never before been raised here. Thayer said the Legislature may have to address the ambiguity.
Judd, an actress who lives outside Nashville, is considering a run against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky next year.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) isn't ready to throw its weight behind a possible Kentucky Senate run by actress Ashley Judd. Politico reports the group's executive director, Guy Cecil, called Judd just one in a "handful of quality candidates in Kentucky" who could take on U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Cecil, in a conference call with reporters Monday, refused to deny a separate report in the Louisville Eccentric Observer that said the DSCC is reevaluating Judd, while giving a second look at another possible Democratic Senate challenger: Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Citing a poll that shows 55 percent of Kentuckians view McConnell unfavorably, Cecil described the Louisville Republican as "one of the most unpopular senators in the country."
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman has reported Judd has told advisors that she plans to announce her Senate candidacy around the time of the Kentucky Derby, which is May 4.