Another Hollywood star in the Senate?

posted at 1:51 pm on December 4, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Well, why not?  George Miller did it in California in 1964.  Al Franken did it in Minnesota four years ago … we’re pretty sure, anyway.  Ashley Judd may become the next Hollywood star to try to gain a seat in the star-studded US Senate, according to Politico, perhaps as early as 2014:

The Hollywood movie star and eighth-generation Kentuckian is seriously exploring a 2014 run for the Senate to take on the powerful Republican leader, four people familiar with the matter tell POLITICO. In recent weeks, Judd has spoken with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) about the possibility of a run, has discussed a potential bid with a Democratic pollster and has begun to conduct opposition research on herself to see where she’s most vulnerable in the Bluegrass State, sources say.

Whether Judd jumps into the race remains far from certain. She’s reportedly also weighing whether to wait until 2016 to instead take on freshman Sen. Rand Paul, sources say.

But if Judd does become a candidate, she would be the biggest celebrity to run for the Senate since Al Franken’s successful 2008 bid for the Minnesota seat. And her entrance would add a level of star power to a race that was already poised to be the highest-profile in the country with the Senate Republican leader up for a sixth term in 2014.

“She is doing all the things that a serious candidate exploring a race should do,” Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) told POLITICO after speaking with her. “I think there are a lot of people, and I was one of them, who wanted to let her know that her candidacy would be an exciting prospect for us. That’s what I wanted her to know. A lot of the labor unions, they were telling me that too.”

Judd comes from a well-known and well-loved family of entertainers in Kentucky, and it never pays to underestimate star power.  However, it goes without saying that Kentucky isn’t California or Minnesota, politically or culturally.  Four weeks ago, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 28 points and almost 400,000 votes without being a native of Kentucky.  Romney carried all but four counties, and in three of those four Obama won, he didn’t get to a majority.

Judd will need to decide whether to aim at Mitch McConnell or Rand Paul, but neither looks particularly enticing.  McConnell held his seat in the Democratic wave election of 2008 as Obama sailed to the presidency, beating a well-known Democratic politician by six points.  Rand Paul beat the sitting and popular Attorney General Jack Conway by twelve points, 56/44, in his first political campaign in 2010.  McConnell will get plenty of establishment help, and Paul has a national legion of his father’s supporters still to tap.

Maybe Judd should think about running in California.  She could hardly be worse than Barbara Boxer.


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