Ashley Judd Says NO, and Mitch McConnell Lucks Up

Considered U.S. Senate candidate Ashley Judd.

Re-considered U.S. Senate candidate Ashley Judd.

After careful consideration, Hollywood actress and global humanitarian Ashley Judd politely declined the opportunity to take on Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in Kentucky’s 2014 U.S. Senate race.

“After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities and energy at this time need to be focused on my family,” said Judd on her @ashleyjudd Twitter account.

With that announcement, the bounce has gone from the bungee in this race.

I can just see Mitch flashing that sly smile of his when he heard Judd, 44, was not going to run.

McConnell didn’t even ramp up the big artillery, but fired enough warning shots across her bow to let Judd know if she was jumping into this race she best come strapped, because it would get personal and it would get nasty.

I don’t know what skeletons Ashley has in her closet, but I’m betting there are a few – and McConnell’s entry salvos, along with his reputation for pummeling opponents was enough to quash Judd’s candidacy.

Mind you, I don’t blame her for not running.

This isn’t Hollywood, and a campaign for Senate isn’t the subject of some movie script.

That’s great Ashley is passionate about her politics and active as a global humanitarian. It’s commendable. But politics is McConnell’s job.

There is some decorum to how national politicians behave in Washington, but back home it’s no joke. They will fight you to the death for re-election.

Ashley Judd was just day trading in her aspiration to become a senator.

My guess is this fading starlet liked the attention and excited by the increased hits on her Web site and Twitter feed.

Relevancy can be a bitch to regain once lost.

She should go enjoy her Hollywood/Nashville life. This way Judd doesn’t have to deal with questions about where she lives, her divorce, or that 47 day stay at the Shades of Hope Treatment Center in 2006 for depression, insomnia and codependency.

Trust me, McConnell and his cronies would have been dropping whispers and running ads on all that noise.

I think Kentucky House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover hit it right on the head when he indicated that getting Judd into the race would be a boon for the state GOP because of her liberal views.

“I hope she does enter the race,” Hoover said. “I think if she becomes a candidate for U.S. Senate, it will almost guarantee that we will become the majority party in the Kentucky House. Her statements on coal, her statements on traditional values are way outside what everyday, hardworking Kentuckians think.”

With Judd now removed from consideration, the focus turns back on McConnell and looks at whether he deserves a sixth term as senator.

A March 29 editorial in the Courier-Journal succinctly put the problem McConnell faces with re-election, “In his five terms in Washington, McConnell has gone from a moderate voice for the people of Kentucky, to a Republican obstructionist, to a Tea Party wannabe who acts entirely out of his self-centered desire to hold onto power.”

After five terms, Sen. Mitch McConnell is the consummate Washington insider.

He already has served longer than any other Kentucky Senator, and has presided over a resurgence of the Republican Party in the Bluegrass that now sees the GOP holding both Senate seats, five of the six U.S. House seats, and maintains control over the state Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell may not look the part, but he is a political force with few equals.

He doesn’t conduct himself in a way that draws undo attention, which fits Kentucky, and shows impressive restraint considering as the Senate Minority Leader, McConnell is the most powerful elected Republican in the country.

His dream job is Senate “Majority” Leader, and his ambition to achieve that title has blinded him to the best interests of Kentucky and its residents.

If we look at McConnell’s last five years, he has done nothing but become the obstructionist-in-chief.

He famously was quoted on Inauguration Day in 2009 as saying, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Well that was a huge failure.

Now he is the poster boy for out-of-touch Republicans.

That is a hate-filled position to hold. You can see the toll it has taken on McConnell’s face and in his body language.

It also has made him vulnerable.

A January Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll found only 17 percent of those surveyed would vote for McConnell unconditionally, while 34 percent signaled they would vote against him regardless.

McConnell’s overall job approval rating is at 37 percent, making him the most unpopular Senator in the country.

Hell even the Tea Party is organizing against him.

In 2010, McConnell backed then-Secretary of State Trey Grayson in a primary campaign for a vacant Senate seat that was won by Rand Paul, who was the Tea Party candidate.

This opened a schism between the old guard GOP in Kentucky and this new insurgency of slash and burn evangelicals.

The Tea Party has not forgotten McConnell’s misstep, nor were they pleased when Mitch compromised with Vice President Biden late last year to work out a fiscal cliff solution.

This has the Tea Party actively seeking a primary opponent to run against the Senate Minority Leader.

McConnell might appear vulnerable, but this 71-year old Republican, first elected to the Senate in 1984, is resilient and a masterful tactician.

Once you go inside the numbers and take into consideration the conservative electorate in Kentucky, this race might not be close, depending upon the candidate.

In hypothetical match-ups, McConnell looks weaker than when you put a particular candidate up against him. Although many Republicans and conservatives are unhappy with him, they would still vote for him in a general election versus voting Democratic.

One thing to remember is Kentuckians handed Mitt Romney a 23-point victory over Obama in the last presidential election. This whole state is out of touch on some level.

Any serious challenger must prove how McConnell has not delivered for his constituents. Plus demonstrate how he or she might better represent Kentucky, considering the access and power McConnell possesses after holding office for so long.

Make no mistake Ashley Judd was a player. She had 100 percent name recognition, was popular, had the looks, a famous mom and sister – all kinds of intangibles McConnell lacked, including some rather liberal views on coal mining.

Still, she was a wild card, and you never know how that might play.

A Judd candidacy scared McConnell enough or he wouldn’t have come after her like he did.

Current Ky. Sec. of State Alison Lundegren Grimes.

Possible Democratic Senate candidate, and current Ky. Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Now the likely candidate will be current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. At 34, Grimes is a rising star and could provide a stark contrast to the dour McConnell.

There also is a rumor that recently defeated House member, Ben Chandler, might be interested. That sounds like a bad idea considering the ugly campaign he lost to Andy Barr.

Regardless, taking on McConnell will be an expensive endeavor. The incumbent has already raised $10 million, mostly from sources outside the state.

In 2008, McConnell spent more than $20 million to defeat Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, but only won by 6 points.

There is an opening here to take down “The Leader,” but it will require money, a motivated candidate, and a sharply run campaign.

Even with all that it might not be enough.

Sometimes an electorate refuses to see the light even in spite of their own well being.

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