March 27th, 2013
05:13 PM ET
1 year ago

Ashley Judd won't run for Senate

(CNN) – Actress and Democrat Ashley Judd, who was openly considering challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky seat in 2014, announced Wednesday she was "currently unable" to run for public office.

"After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family," Judd wrote on Twitter.

The announcement comes after months of speculation that Judd – an actress with family roots in Kentucky - would jump into politics. The rumors sparked heavy backlash from Republicans, including McConnell, who began producing videos attacking Judd.

One featured footage of Judd representing the neighboring state Tennessee, where she's lived for years, at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She's also seen saying in the video that San Francisco is her "American city home."

While she partly grew up in the state and graduated from University of Kentucky, Judd has lived elsewhere as an adult, including California and Scotland. She was married to Scottish race car driver Dario Franchitti, but they announced they were getting a divorce earlier this year.

Judd actively campaigned for Obama during the 2008 and 2012 elections and has been known for advocating for poverty reduction, immigration rights, environmental issues, public health, and human rights issues. She also graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a master's degree in 2010.

McConnell, now in his fifth term, wasn't the only one to preemptively go after Judd. American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, spent $10,000 on a web ad earlier this month, also hitting Judd for her declared love of Tennessee, where she owns property and where she spent some time as a child.

Hilary Rosen, the Democratic strategist, said Monday her firm SKDKnickerbocker was consulting Judd on a potential bid.

“She seriously looked at it. There was a tremendous amount of support, and I think she would have made a great candidate,” Rosen said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

“The timing just wasn’t right. She has a lot of other things going on,” Rosen added, noting Judd made her decision not to run within the last ten days.

The Kentucky Democratic Party wrote they had "great respect and admiration for Ashley Judd's humanitarian work and passion for Kentucky" but that they were "confident we will have a candidate who can give Kentuckians the voice in Washington they deserve."

Privately, some Democrats worried Judd was too liberal a candidate for Kentucky, which hasn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992, when Wendell Ford won re-election.

With Judd out of the race, Democratic eyes are turning to Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State. Grimes has not ruled out a bid against McConnell in 2014, and was touted as a top potential candidate during a conference call with Democratic officials earlier this month.

While the election is still more than a year away, McConnell has gotten a head start on fundraising. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican with broad support among the tea party, hosted an event this week that brought in north of $230,000 for the minority leader. In all, McConnell’s campaign had $7.3 million cash on hand as of their last filings with the Federal Election Commission.

CNN's Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Kentucky
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. James McKnight

    That's too bad.
    I think she would have given Mitch (the walking corpse) a run for Rove's money!
    Hopefully the good people of Kentucky have had enough of him and his ilk.

    March 27, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. tekstep1

    They must have been really freaked out by her.

    March 27, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. zandhcats

    So a 78 old senile continues to service his rich donors till he dies?

    March 27, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. TomGI

    That's a sad outcome for the average folks in Kentucky. They're stuck with Mitch McConnell and he certainly cares not for the middle class, poor, seniors, military families, financially stressed, homeless, infirm.

    March 27, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. ReaganLives4Ever

    That's too bad. I was actually looking forward to a great campaign as she answered questions on the stump, spoke at town halls, was off script, debated, interviewed, etc. She was going to have been a fine hollywood big time liberal candidate. Who can we get to replace such quality? Perhaps a homeless person in Hollywood? But that's not fair to the homeless...

    March 27, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. Binyam

    It would have been exciting to see a woman running against the most conservative man in the senate.

    March 27, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. rand

    Good! I don't think we could handle Sandra Fluke the Second

    March 27, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. me

    I'm a liberal leaning person and even I am happy about this decision... the sooner we rid ourselves of the scourge that is the GOP/Right wing/Tea Party dolts who have, and continue, to screw up this country, the better we will be... but not with the likes of Ashley Judd taking their place...

    March 27, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. Jewels

    That is too bad. I really thought she'd run. I wonder if she received death threats from the "mob" - being the white crew currently in power....

    March 27, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. galois01

    I wanted to see Ashley beat the pants off McConnel.. Trouble is the Kentucky voters were dumb enough to bring in Rand Paul.

    March 27, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. DinINdy

    Well, at least she got some wingnuts to soil their panties and waste some cash. Thanks Ashley!

    March 27, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Tod Swab

    That is breaking news?? Are you kidding me?

    March 27, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Loyalright

    I guess the perks were not good enough

    March 27, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. Kentucky

    Smart decision!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 27, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. Loo

    Good grief. As a Kentuckian, I have no idea why my fellow Kentuckians are so enamored with Ashley Judd. As much as I'd love to see someone finally beat out McConnell, I'm glad it's not going to be her. It's hard to take someone seriously who was a pin-up poster girl for the UK club hockey team which my ex-boyfriends had hanging in their dorm rooms.

    March 27, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. B

    This is considered "breaking news"?

    March 27, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. BIte Me

    Too bad...would have been nice to see one of those Hollywood liberals who think they know it all get a lesson in humility...

    March 27, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. Double Jeopardy

    Oh, come on now Ashley...I FELL ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE with you back in the day when you starred with Tommy Lee Jones in that great movie, Double Jeopardy. I would LOVE YOU EVEN MORE if you would get Mitch McConnell "dethroned" from the US Senate once and for all. We need to "wash" all of the GOP and TEA party RADICALS out of both the House and Senate chambers. Only then can we get anything done for the people of this great nation.

    March 27, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. RBinCA

    Knowing that Karl Rove was funding some of the attack ads, who can blame Ashley Judd for not wanting to run? His group of reactionary whackos would have no problem going after Ms. Judd then her children, her sister, her mother or the audience members who ever saw one of her films.

    Clearly the GOP was scared of the possibility she presented; otherwise they would not have sent their attack dogs out on a preemptive strike.

    March 27, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  20. Mike in Louisville

    Too bad she did not run. She would have cost other Democrats by association on her way to losing.
    By the way, CNN, way to cover for her with the diluted list of her "advocacy".
    1. She says it is "unconscionable to breed". CNN calls this "poverty reduction"
    2. She campaigns for Planned Parenthood and abortions. CNN calls this "public health"
    3. She compares blue collar coal miners to rapists. CNN calls this "environmental issues".
    Not much daylight between CNN and MSNBC anymore....

    March 27, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. Phil from Dallas

    What a shame that she is not going to run. I bet she scared the pants off old Mitch McConnell.

    March 27, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    Funny how the right-wingers lament Judd for her multiple places of residence, yet they had no problem supporting their last presidential candidate from Michigan / Utah / Massachusetts / California. Right-wingers are just too stupid to understand what hypocrisy means, let alone how it relates to them.

    March 27, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  23. Citizen Patriot

    Maybe next time Ashley.... you've certainly got the brain, the ethics, the ambition & your heart in the right place for the job of replacing the biggest scumsucker in Washington. Praying the Dems in KY find a good candidate!

    March 27, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Richard Hardin (Rich)

    This is bad news to me. I was so looking forward to watch Ms. Judd beat the socks off of America's top conservative.
    I saw her speak to a college group on C-SPAN 2 or 3 weeks ago. She is highly educated and sharper than a tack! If I were a betting man, I would bet that the ONLY reason she is not running is because of the residency problem between Kentucky and Tennessee. They did have that on her. Otherwise, I think she would have made an excellent Senator. I hope she reconsiders at some point, because America is in dire need of quality leadership she could easily provide. Please reconsider Ashley!

    March 27, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Dago T

    As long as she got Mitch to waste a few bucks ...

    March 27, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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