The Campaign Spot

Democrats’ Second Thoughts About Ashley Judd?

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Is Judd-gment Day Coming this Spring?

So, actress Ashley Judd is preparing to run for Senate . . . or perhaps not.

Actress Ashley Judd, who has reportedly been exploring a Senate run since last December, will announce her candidacy in the spring, MSNBC’s Howard Fineman reported Sunday. Her candidacy would pit her against Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

The 44-year-old star of “Double Jeopardy” also has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and has been a women’s rights activist for years. She had met with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to talk about women running for office more than a year ago, Fineman reported.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, Judd denied that she was planning on making announcements any time soon.

“I am not sure who is saying this stuff, but it is not I!” Judd said to the website. “I’d prefer as a fan of your journalism that you stay accurate and credible. We told everyone who called us yesterday these stories are fabrications.”

Are Washington Democrats suddenly nervous about Ashley Judd as their standard-bearer? A Louisville weekly is reporting that’s exactly the case:

LEO Weekly has learned from multiple Democratic sources that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is now applying the brakes to their once all-in support of Ashley Judd as the challenger of choice against Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014. While not ready to abandon Judd, they are now taking a serious second look at recruiting Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The change of heart came after a recent poll the DSCC conducted, but not because it showed Judd was incapable of competing with McConnell, rather that Grimes performed better than Judd and gave Democrats the best chance at victory.

As late as last week, the wheels were already very much in motion at the DSCC in planning a Judd Senate candidacy. While those plans have not been scrapped, there is definitely a re-evaluation happening. Our sources tell LEO that while the DSCC felt that Judd could compete with McConnell, one of Judd’s strongest assets would be her ability to raise money on par with McConnell and tie up Republican campaign spending (both McConnell’s and the NRSC’s) in that race. However, their recent polling suggests the 2014 race is very much winnable, with McConnell so vulnerable that Democrats need to make their priority finding the candidate with the best chance of winning.

For what it’s worth, Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Tweeted, “In my time with the DSCC, I think 85 percent of all recruitment theories and stories have been wrong. It’ll make for a good story when I’m done next November.”

A bit of DSCC caution makes sense, no? Kentucky Democrats are a different breed. With one interruption — Ernie Fletcher from 2003 to 2007 — Democrats have occupied the governor’s mansion since 1971. But in the senatorial races, where national issues are more likely to predominate the campaigns, Republicans have won every race since 1992. Right now, five of the six U.S. House members from the state are Republicans. So you would think Democrats would want someone who could run the “I’m nothing like Obama” type campaign that works for Democrats in places like West Virginia and Utah. One look at the American Crossroads web ad knocking Judd and you know you’re dealing with a potential candidate who will be extremely popular with Democrats outside of Kentucky . . . but inside the state, perhaps not so much.


The Latest