“If she runs, I think that it would be a catastrophe for a lot of downballot races in Kentucky,” said Jimmy Cauley, a longtime Kentucky Democratic strategist who doesn’t believe Judd can win a general election. Among Democratic state legislators, he said, “there is significant worry about Ashley being on the ballot.”

Democrats plugged into the Frankfort, Ky., zeitgeist publicly and privately confirmed those sentiments. The crux of their worry is this: As a celebrity and strong supporter of President Barack Obama, Judd’s position at the top of the ticket could nationalize state and local races. They see her losing the Senate contest — an uphill climb for any Democrat — and potentially poisoning the conservative brand of some state Democrats.

For years, the Kentucky Democratic Party has racked up significant successes at the state and local level, from the governor’s mansion down the ballot. But in federal elections, Republicans have won victory after victory. In November, Obama lost the state, winning less than 38 percent of the vote.