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. Lynn

    To bad she's a heck of a lot better than I've got a turtlehead pokin out . Fb

    March 27, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. devin

    Finally, a piece of good news.

    March 27, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  3. BrightStar

    Somebody from the Tea Party has a much better chance of knocking off the Kentucky turtle.

    March 27, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. mark murphy

    As a Kentuckian I am glad Ashley is not running. I like her a lot and remember her vaguely at UK but politics is rough and she is a nice gal. Not the kind of situation she needs to be in.
    Weather the good people of Kentucky like or hate Mitch I don't see any advantage to replacing one of the most powerful men in Washington with a first term junior back bench Senator. As for rest of the country; you keep sending knuckleheads like Harry"I can't find my budget" Reid and Nancy"Guess what's secret toy surprise is in the Obamacare Box" Pelosi with out concerning yourselves overly much with what we think. I guess we can do the same.

    March 27, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. Greg Clapton

    Would any Democrat or Republican from Kentucky really want a Hollywood bimbo making political decisions for them?

    March 27, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. tokalosh0

    Smart move.

    March 27, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  7. Pete

    Don't count her out yet there's still time and if McConnell keeps running his trap she might come out swinging ..So don't worry democrates because whoever runs will definitly have Ms.Judd along side of them to help raise money and awareness,just keep our heads high because republicans have a lot more to worry about than just Ms Judd for starts!!

    March 27, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  8. Jinx9to88

    This is good for the Dems, McConnell can be beat with a half decent Democrat. McConnell would have been better with Ashley running. Nice!!!!

    March 27, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  9. jump

    Uhh Tod, half the country wants to see McConnel toppled in the next race. So I would say it's news worthy...

    March 27, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  10. Wazzup

    Does she have a job? I mean beside being a liberal?

    March 27, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  11. Jason Glugla

    Disappointing, but understandable.

    March 27, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  12. lynn

    Please it was all hype for her next movie. She must think a lot about herself. She is way too liberal for KY. Mitch is powerful in DC and brings money to the state. S has no experience and needs to run in TN is she wants to enter a race. Go MITCH!!

    March 27, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. Benjamin Zhao

    Metaphorically speaking, "Judd is going to stick to her day job" is a false statement. Only 48 hours ago, I believe Judd was till stick to her night job that has been there for a long time. How come Judd changed so quickly without any observable convincing reason? To save Japan can be a good temporary reason. Could Judd believe a country with a big Sun on the flag to be considered as Sun God's place? Please don't fool people around Judd. I don't believe Judd is a simple shallow person. Behave, Judd, behave.

    March 27, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Not a scientist, a doctor or a economist? No, another left wing wing nut liberal hollywood star. Is this the best the left can do for the country?

    March 27, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. marcus

    bwhahahaha – this is news? only to some really mis-guided liberals I suppose

    March 27, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  16. apetra

    Congratulations to "Bone Collector" Karl Rove and the rest of the gang at American Crossroads.

    Knockout punch!

    Keep it coming.

    March 27, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  17. S.B. Stein

    It isn't a huge surprise that she didn't go for it. It would have been an up hill struggle because of the residency and the fact that she is a movie star.

    March 27, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  18. missingmick

    I give her credit for realizing she couldn't and wouldn't have been able to hack it.
    It would have been another case of an "unusual" running for office, less-than-savvy people voting for her purely for that reason, and it would turn out to be a mess (Obama example comes to mind).
    She needs to stick to what she is good at and knows: Acting. She can find comfort knowing she'll continued to be surrounded by like-minded liberal namby pambies.

    March 27, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  19. HenryMiller

    So, having realised that the Dems are going to be anihilated in 2014, Ms Judd has wisely decided to forego the bloodbath.

    March 27, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  20. bo jiden

    maybe she could move to nevada and run against harry "do nothing" reed. NOW we are talking about a fossil!!!

    March 27, 2013 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  21. Stephen

    I love how many super rich people such as Judd are "advocating for poverty reduction", yet have no problem owning many houses, and dresses worth more money than most people make in a year. I would respect her if she quit advocating for the taking and spending of my money – and giving her own to help those in poverty. Meanwhile, those in poverty are still in poverty, while Ashley flies around the world living the high-life. Do as I say, not as I do, huh?

    March 27, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  22. Moregunsfewerbooks

    Damn shame. She'd have mopped the floor with Grandpa mush face.

    March 27, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  23. Thomas

    I'm sure Mr and Mrs. Mitch McConnel will sleep better tonight.

    He would have lost the election .

    March 28, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  24. miketamborrino

    Just what we need, another know-nothing hollywood liberal who thinks to continue down this progressive path is the way out of this fiscal mess. BUT, she is nice to look at LOL

    March 28, 2013 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  25. Steve

    That's too bad. An uneducated, uber-rich actress who appeared in countless mindless movies was exactly what this country needed....

    March 28, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
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