I said on Friday that she’s low risk and high reward, which is true — if all you’re looking at it is beating Mitch McConnell. That’s unlikely to happen even with a strong nominee so why not roll the dice on a celebrity? The caveat, though, is that Judd’s enough of a loose cannon that she might end up hurting other Democratic candidates across the state. And although Kentucky is reliably red in presidential and Senate elections (apart from voting twice for Clinton, it’s gone GOP since 1980), that’s not the case for other statewide offices. Apart from one four-year stretch in the last decade, the state’s been governed by Democrats since 1971. Steve Beshear, the current governor, is term-limited so the seat will be open again in 2015. If Judd acts a bit too … Judd-like on the trail, that might hang over the gubernatorial race and suddenly the state party’s locked out of power across the board for the next several years.
Second look at not nominating a hard-left liberal in a conservative-leaning southern state?
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.
Grimes got elected secretary of state two years ago at the age of 32. The question is why she’d want to gamble on trying to defeat McConnell, who’ll have the Republican establishment and, via Rand Paul, the tea party behind him next year, when she could pass and run for the more Democrat-friendly position of governor in 2015 instead. One theory, I guess, is that she could use the McConnell race as a stepping-stone to governor. If she runs and upsets him, great — she’s a senator. If she runs and loses but gives him a tough fight, great — she’s boosted her name recognition tremendously and is now better positioned to win the governor’s seat in two years. (That’s sort of what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts, albeit with a much greater financial advantage.) Whether she has the energy and fundraising chops to run two major races in three years is iffy, though. And if she’s already polling better than Judd in internal Democratic polls then her name recognition must be fairly good. Hard to see why she’d want to do this unless she’s convinced that McConnell really can be beaten. It’s also hard to see why the DSCC would spend huge sums trying to take him out. His seat’s a giant prize but they have a bunch of defensive battles to fight in red states next year. Why bet big on beating a five-term incumbent in a presidential off-year when you can use the money to protect vulnerable swing-state Dems instead?