In fairness, it’s not the worst play Democrats could make. McConnell’s not terribly well liked at home: Three of his five Senate wins have been with 53 percent of the vote or less. Maybe a movie star with major name recognition can capitalize. On the other hand, in a presidential election off-year and with Rand Paul solidly behind him, he’s likely to be formidable in 2014. (McConnell’s been shrewd about ingratiating himself with Paul since opposing him in the 2010 primary. He hired Rand’s former campaign manager as a top advisor to his own reelection campaign and approved Rand’s filibuster in advance before speaking on the floor in support on Wednesday night.) If the Democratic nominee’s bound to be an even longer longshot in usual, why not give Judd a shot to make a splash? Low risk, high reward.
“At least in Ashley’s mind, it is happening,” said the insider. “She has devoted herself to many important causes and stepped away from the Hollywood spotlight so this seems like the logical next step. I don’t know if she will be successful, but her heart is in the right place.”
Judd, 44, has reportedly been meeting with well-financed Democratic donors, and last week ventured to Washington D.C for more public engagements.According to Don Peebles, Chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation, a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a Judd run is likely much more than a Hollywood fantasy.
“There looks to be a lot of noise around her running and she’s been active in commenting on politics of the day so it is certainly possible,” he said. “Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s approval ratings are low, and a lot of reports show that he is vulnerable to a challenge. While Kentucky leans right, it is not as conservative as most of its neighbors and the voters of Kentucky may be looking to send a message that they don’t feel fairly represented by Minority Leader McConnell.”
How do you defeat her? This idea from Dan McLaughlin is a brilliant start:
Protip: ask Ashley Judd why Mitt Romney won Kentucky by 23 points. Bet she insults the state’s voters.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) March 8, 2013
That’s an easy question for a polished pol, especially the sort of Blue Dog that Kentucky Democrats would normally nominate. Just babble some talking points about how the party has done a poor job communicating with Kentuckians, that its pro-middle-class agenda should be a natural fit for a proudly populist blue-collar state, etc. Pandering’s an easy skill to learn and I’m sure Judd will learn it — somewhat. Eventually. At the moment, though, if you’ve ever watched her speak, you know that she’s much more comfortable with the activist’s over-the-top moral indignation at the evildoers standing in the way of her agenda than with the candidate’s carefully measured criticism of the loyal opposition that happens to dominate the state he/she is running in. That’s how mountaintop coal removal magically turns into rape. If Dan’s question were put to her today, I think she’d be smart enough to at least blame Mitt Romney’s Satanic campaign of lies and greed and patriarchy for having duped the poor voters of Kentucky rather than blame Kentuckians themselves, but I don’t know. She’s enough of a loose cannon that there’s at least some doubt. Which is why this campaign’s bound to be fun, no matter how it ends.
Speaking of which, go read the joke campaign e-mail that the NRSC’s cooked up for her.