March 27th, 2013
05:13 PM ET
10 years 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. us_1776

    Bush was from Maine but represented Texas.

    So who cares where she is from.


    March 27, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Timing just isn't right. Ms Judd will have opportunities in the future when demographics turn Kentucky into a swing or blue state.

    March 27, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. politically indy

    I now I'll sleep better now.

    March 27, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    ISIS shes not a country singer shes an actress

    March 27, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. 7 of the top 10 richest members of congress are democrats

    Let the liberal hate spewing continue. Music to my ears.

    March 27, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Gordo

    She must have finally understood that the bunch she would be associated with were whack jobs.

    Too bad actually, I was looking forward to a Kentucky version of Paris Hilton.

    March 27, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Considering that she is not even a resident of this state, would have been kind of hard for her to run from Tennessee.

    March 27, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. DE

    A collective sigh of relief from repugs.

    March 27, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. walter

    Oh, she's for poverty reduction. And just how exactly would you address that issue Ms. Judd? Oh, wealth redistribution. Interesting.

    March 27, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. AZ Girl

    First off, does anyone else other that myself shake their head when reading the post blasting those "Hollywood types" in politics by someone with the tagname of "ReaganLives4Ever"?

    Second to all you blasting actor, actresses as liberals, etc. If what Ashley Judd stands for (human rights, environmental issues, poverty reduction, etc) as noted in the article is "liberalism" count me in, I will PROUDLY wear that badge of honor.

    And Third, for god's sake, if you are going to "TRY" and sound smart, witty, and funny while you're dissing someone GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT, Ashley is the Actress (and quite a good one), Wynonna and Naomi are the "Country singers" you self righteous nit.

    March 27, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. @Sniffiting

    The background in that picture looks like the strangest looking kitchen I have ever seen.

    March 27, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  12. Simon

    I think she is still recovering from all her face injections.

    March 27, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  13. John Deatherage

    If she wanted to run, she should have run for a Tennessee political office. Don't we have enough politicians that bend the rules to suite themselves already?

    March 27, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  14. Dave in IL

    Good. We already have an empty shell of a celebrity in the White House, we don't need another in the Senate.

    March 27, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  15. Carol

    What a waste of everyones time, for people who are really interested in government policies.

    March 27, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  16. Dave in IL

    zandhcats "So a 78 old senile continues to service his rich donors till he dies?" At least check your facts. McConnell is 71. Harry Reid is two years older.

    March 27, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. Guest

    Guess they figured out she was a joke.

    March 27, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. none

    They must have dug up some good dirt....

    March 27, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  19. ColdWarVet75

    This Hollywood phoney said not long ago that poor people shouldn't have kids. She forgets that her mother was a single mom raising two girls. Just another Hollywood idiot that believes because they can parrot some lines from paper they know what is best.

    March 27, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Noel

    Lundergan is a better connect candidate and "the chosen one" by the Clintons and the Dem establishment in KY. Judd would have to put up with Bill Clinton publicly supporting another Dem candidate.

    March 27, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  21. Concernicus

    Wise decision. Grimes will be a far superior candidate.

    March 27, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. Becky

    Smart woman.

    March 27, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. MesaMax

    Thank GOD!!! She is a radical extremist.

    March 27, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  24. TC

    If I was a Kentuckian I would have voted for her just to displace the incumbent but an "anywhere the wind blows, artisan" is not what we need for the state or the country.

    March 27, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  25. Guest

    All of you guys thinking that she had a prayer of beating a professional politician as entrenched as McConnel are simply delusional. Not that that's a good thing, mind you, but it is nearly impossible to knock off someone who has been around that long. Also, you guys should try backing someone who is –how to put this– qualified in even some small way for the job.

    March 27, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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