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Ashley Judd for Senate: Could she win? (+video)

Charlie Cook’s Political Report website lists actress/activist Ashley Judd as a possible Democratic nominee in the 2014 Kentucky Senate race. But so far, she hasn't given a definite 'yes' to running.

By Staff writer / December 4, 2012

Actress Ashley Judd (c.) gives a pep talk to volunteers for the Obama for President campaign at the Fredericksburg, Va. office on Oct. 21.

Robert A. Martin/The Free Lance-Star/AP

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It’s true: Kentucky Democrats are talking up actress/activist Ashley Judd as a possible candidate for Senate in 2014. Ms. Judd, an eighth-generation Kentuckian, was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention this summer and is a big fan of President Obama, so it’s not like this is a completely wacky idea. So far, Judd isn’t saying “yes” to a run, but she isn’t saying “no,” either.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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Ashley Judd might run for Kentuckys Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's seat in 2014

“I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I’m very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let’s focus on coming together to keep moving America’s families, and especially our kids, forward,” Judd told Us Weekly last month.

Charlie Cook’s Political Report website lists Judd as a possible Democratic nominee in the Kentucky race, so the D.C. punditocracy is paying some attention to this scenario as well.

If she runs, the GOP opponent would be none other than Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, one of the top Republican lawmakers in the United States. Democrats would love to knock off Senator McConnell, in part because in 2010 he said the most important thing the GOP could achieve would be “for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Would Judd have a chance against such an experienced and hard-nosed politician?

Well, she’d certainly attract a lot of attention. As a genuine star who has portrayed Marilyn Monroe (in 1996’s “Norma Jean & Marilyn”) and costarred in a Cole Porter biopic (2004’s “De-Lovely”) and a movie about the tooth fairy (2010’s “Tooth Fairy”), she’d have little trouble raising money from Hollywood liberals. Plus, this is a plot that’s played out on the national stage before. Two words: Al Franken. Senator Franken (D), a professional comedian, knocked off incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota in 2008.

So Democrats can dream, can’t they?

Yes, they can. But eventually they’ll have to open their eyes and see that Judd’s prospects of beating McConnell aren’t good.

First, it’s Kentucky, not Minnesota. It’s a Republican state. Mitt Romney took 61 percent of the vote there a month ago to Mr. Obama’s 38 percent. The aforementioned Charlie Cook Political Report already judges the 2014 Senate contest to “lean Republican.”

One reason Judd’s name is coming up is because other prominent Kentucky Democrats don’t want to run and get beat.

Second, Judd’s not just a Democrat, she’s a Hollywood Democrat. Her own grandmother recently called her a “Hollywood liberal.” The GOP has long experience in painting such folks as out-of-touch celebrity nitwits who want to nationalize health care while forcing everyone to drive electric cars with a top speed of 55 miles per hour.

(Yes, Judd is married to a race-car driver. But he’s Scottish and thus foreign, so that might be a wash, electorally speaking.)

Last, there’s the matter of bluegrass allegiance. It’s true that Judd’s family has deep Kentucky roots. But the state from which she was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention wasn’t Kentucky. It was Tennessee! She and husband Dario Franchitti split their time between a Tennessee farm and a home in Scotland. We’d bet that in Kentucky, the former domicile would be a much bigger political problem for her than the latter.

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