Hollywood actress and political activist Ashley Judd is reportedly mulling over a possible challenge to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell’s fifth term in the Senate will end in 2014, completing a run of 30 years. This is the Senate leader, of course, who famously declared early in President Obama’s first term that the Republican Party’s top priority was to make President Obama a one-term president. Yes, McConnell is a political powerhouse in Kentucky and the country. He sits on a political war chest of nearly $7 million, earmarked specifically for his re-election campaign in 2014.
In 2008, McConnell won re-election after spending $20 million on that election. He defeated Democrat Bruce Lunsford, a wealthy businessman, by 6 percentage points.
Ashley Judd, of course, is a veteran actress. Her most memorable films include "Kiss the Girls," "Double Jeopardy," "Where the Heart Is" and "High Crimes."
In a carefully worded statement, Judd addresses the possibility of a Senate run – sort of:
"I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I'm very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let's focus on coming together to keep moving America's families, and especially our kids, forward."
Spoken like a true politician: Didn’t say yes, didn’t say no.
At the moment, Ashley Judd lives on the outskirts of Nashville, Tenn. But, she is a Kentucky native and would thus have to re-establish residency there in order to face McConnell. She was a Tennessee delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.
But all is not well in the bluegrass of Kentucky. Polly Judd is Ashley Judd’s 85-year-old grandmother. And, she is dead set against her famous kinfolk running against her favorite senator.
"I don't think there's any possibility of that happening," Polly told the Associated Press in a telephone interview last week from her home. Indeed, Polly Judd is herself a political activist in Ashland, Kentucky. She even served on the city commission there. As for her position on Kentucky’s longest-serving senator, she says, "I think Mitch has done more for Ashland than anybody else who has been in there. That means a lot. He's been here personally, and we don't always get that from politicians who represent us."
Still, despite her grandmother's misgivings, Ashley Judd is a proven winner. She usually wins at whatever she puts her mind to. She’s a University of Kentucky alumnus and is often seen at UK basketball games. She is married to three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
A run by Ashley Judd to unseat the cantankerous and obstructionist Mitch McConnell would be a must-see, ready-for-prime-time, made-for-TV movie-like event. It would draw everyone’s attention to McConnell's 30-year history of serving the haves and the have-mores of Kentucky rather than “the least of these.” Such a race would certainly eclipse the attention, notoriety, money and citizen-participation that even the recent rough and tumble Massachusetts Senate battle between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown drew.
Finally, it is not too early to consider such a battle. Recall that it was after Obama’s resounding victory in 2008 that progressives and Democrats generally folded up their tents and went home. And, into the breach, the political vacuum, stepped the now infamous “Tea Party.”
To avoid a similar “shellacking” in 2014, the time is now to organize, mobilize, and strategize – including identifying and supporting true progressives and liberals such as Ashley Judd.