This Christmas, Kentucky Republicans should ask Santa for an Ashley Judd Senate bid in 2014.
The actress — who conspicuously has not ruled out a run, and who issued a statement last month saying she was “very honored” by the consideration — is attracting plenty of buzz as a potential Democratic candidate in the Bluegrass state. Although she currently lives in Tennessee, she spent much of her childhood in Kentucky, attended the University of Kentucky, and remains an ardent fan of the school’s basketball team, the Wildcats. In 2010, she earned a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard, and she has become increasingly politically active in recent years.
Despite her attachment to Kentucky, Judd has a long track record of statements and positions that are more California than Kentucky.
In an interview this week with radio station WMAL in Washington, D.C., Kentucky senator Rand Paul dismissed Judd as “way damn too liberal for our country and our state.” Judd “hates our biggest industry, which is coal,” Paul said. “So I say, good luck bringing the ‘I hate coal’ message to Kentucky.”
Paul is not exaggerating. In 2010, Judd delivered a talk at the National Press Club in which she decried mountaintop-removal coal mining. “It’s important that those of us fighting the coal companies stick together,” she said, according to the Washington Examiner. “Because they make me feel absolutely and totally crazy.” She also touted The Green Collar Economy, the book written by none other than former Obama administration official Van Jones.
Judd’s coal criticisms weren’t well received by Bluegrass-state citizens. “A poster with a Marie Claire magazine portrait of Judd covering her breasts with her hands was on display Wednesday at a coal-industry golf tournament in Prestonsburg, Ky.,” the Associated Press reported. The text on the poster was this question: “Ashley Judd makes a living removing her top, why can’t coal miners?”
Judd told BlogTalkRadio.com that the poster was an example of the attitude that says, “Let’s sexualize a woman to discredit her.” And she again attacked coal, saying the criticism she had received paled in comparison with “what people are living through in the coal fields with their foundations cracked and their wells going dry and their water contaminated, spending $420 a month on bottled water, and putting soda water in sippy cups to prevent children from ingesting toxic material.”
More recently, Judd lambasted Mitt Romney in October for comments he made about coal. “The era of coal plant is over, unacceptable. It’s teh dirties and we as USA can do better. Innovate,” she tweeted. And earlier that month, in response to a woman who asked Judd how, as a Kentuckian who must understand the importance of coal mining, she could support Obama, Judd tweeted: “I support coal miners & their families, & their right for safer, better paying jobs. I do not support environmental genocide.”
Coal isn’t the only issue on which Judd is out of touch with Kentucky.
For one thing, she’s not the kind of moderate Democrat who might have widespread appeal in a state where Romney captured 60 percent of the vote. This year, Judd endorsed Obama and made a Web video supporting his candidacy. “[Woman] on NPR said she’s tired of having a rock star for pres,” Judd tweeted last month. “Really? Gifted? Engaging? Charismatic? Moves people? Compelling? What’s the prob?” Talking to reporters at the Democratic convention this summer, Judd gushed, according to Politico, “It’s Christmas every four years.”
And don’t look for Judd to try to show she’s a woman of the people by hunting. In 2009, she feuded with Sarah Palin over hunting. “When Sarah Palin came on the national scene last summer, few knew she promotes the brutal aerial killing of wolves,” Judd said in a video she made for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. “Now, back in Alaska, Palin is again casting aside science and championing the slaughter of wildlife. It is time to stop Sarah Palin and stop this senseless savagery.” Judd was referring to Alaska’s efforts to control the wolf population — cuddly critters that were also hunting moose and caribou, creatures vital to Alaska’s environment and rural economy.
Judd has laudably promoted a variety of humanitarian causes in recent years, including the fight against AIDs and global poverty, but on social matters she has also been vehemently leftist and occasionally odd. “It’s unconscionable to breed, with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries,” Judd told the Sunday Mail in 2006 (this from a woman who put up for sale her second home in Scotland earlier this year for about $5.9 million).
Judd also supports legalization of same-sex marriage. In May, speaking of Obama, she told Meet the Press: “I was extremely proud of his statement about gay marriage, for example, because he didn’t need to do that. He was just displaying his values and his belief in equality. And that moved me to tears.” It’s unlikely that view will play well in Kentucky, where 62 percent of voters (and 53 percent of Democrats) oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, according to a 2011 Public Policy Polling poll.
She’s also fervently pro-choice. Earlier this year, Judd joined several other celebrities to make a spoof video that compared Rick Santorum’s decision to end his presidential campaign to an abortion — as though ending a political campaign and ending a human life are comparable, or subjects for hilarity. “Okay, we’ll finalize this after the mandatory 72-hour waiting period,” Judd snarks to Santorum — the person seeking the “abortion” — at one point in the skit.
If Democrats really want a Judd to run for the Senate in Kentucky, there is one candidate with more experience who is available and who has perhaps only marginally longer odds: Keith Judd, the felon who captured 40 percent of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic primary.
— Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.