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Does Ashley Judd scare Mitch McConnell? (+video)

Sen. Mitch McConnell's first campaign ad criticizes his reelection opponents, including Ashley Judd. Recent statewide polls show waning support for the minority leader.

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After all, she is indeed a Hollywood liberal, according to her own grandmother. The Tennessee thing is going to be a big problem if she runs – which by the way she hasn’t said she’s doing. She’s just honored by the attention, and considering it, and so forth.

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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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Kentucky went big for Mitt Romney last fall. It should be a safe GOP seat.

But McConnell does not poll well in his own state at the moment, perhaps because of his role on the national stage. A recent Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll found that only 17 percent of the state’s voters said they would be sure to support him. Thirty-four percent said they planned to oppose him. Forty-four percent said they were waiting to see who his opponent will be before deciding.

It’s possible that leaves an opening for Judd.

“It’s safe to say that if she ran, she could put in big money, raise a lot more and perhaps put McConnell under unprecedented scrutiny at a time when he’s not all that popular,” writes Al Cross, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky and a former Courier-Journal political writer, in a recent opinion piece.

A just-released poll puts McConnell ahead of Judd by 49 to 40 percent in a head-to-head matchup. The survey was taken by Harper Polling in conjunction with RunSwitch Public Relations, a firm founded by a former McConnell aide.

“My takeaways from the survey are that Senator McConnell is in solid shape among Republicans and general election voters, and that Ashley Judd, for someone who has never run for office, already has a tough hold out of which to climb regarding her own image,” said RunSwitch founding partner Scott Jennings in a statement upon the poll release.

That’s one way to look at it. And it’s true the poll found that voters reacted negatively when told Judd has been living in Tennessee, for instance. But if you were minority leader of the US Senate, someone striking key fiscal deals with the White House, wouldn’t you think you could lead the costar of “Tooth Fairy” by more than that?

“Tennessee is my home!” are the last words on the new McConnell ad. If she does run, that’s a phrase that’s going to be drilled into every potential voter in the Bluegrass State approximately a zillion times prior to Election Day.

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