Ashley Judd: Is she starting to act like a real Senate candidate?

Ashley Judd has recently met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Kentucky Democrats, according to media reports, fueling speculation that she might actually run.

Robert A. Martin/The Free Lance-Star/AP/File
Actress Ashley Judd (c.) gives a pep talk to volunteers for the Obama for President campaign at the Fredericksburg, Va. office last year.

OK, Ashley Judd is starting to act like an actual possible candidate for the Senate in Kentucky, as opposed to a coy celebrity who’s flattered that reporters are asking her about politics instead of her film career.

Either that, or she’s conducing hands-on research for a part in next season’s “House of Cards.”

We say that because in recent days the actress/activist met privately with officials from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to a report in Politico. That’s a Station of the Cross for Senate candidate wannabes.

The DSCC is a contribution clearing house for Democratic candidates. It also recruits candidates and advises them on strategy, all in the name of keeping, or capturing, chamber control.

The GOP has a similar organization, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. There are also Democratic and Republican campaign committees for the House.

For what it’s worth, the DSCC’s chairman this cycle is Sen. Michael Bennet from Colorado, who knows a thing or do about winning a tough election in a state that’s not deep blue. Maybe he feels a kinship with Ms. Judd, who’d be taking on a tough opponent in incumbent minority leader Mitch McConnell.

Judd has yet to set up any political committees of her own for fundraising or just plain exploratory action. But she’s also met recently with top state Dems in Louisville, Ky., presumably to test the waters and engage in a little prefundraising survey of potential wallets, according to another report in the Atlantic.

As we wrote the other day, Senator McConnell is acting as if he’s wary of running against Judd. He’s included her in a preemptive ad he’s issued mocking potential opponents. A GOP polling firm found him 9 points up on Judd in a survey it released last week, which is OK, except that we’d think an incumbent senator might do better matched up against a co-star of “Dolphin Tale.”

Look over at New Jersey to see what we mean. Geraldo Rivera’s been talking about running for the Senate there as a Republican, and a new Quinnipiac poll finds the mustachioed action journalist trailing Democrat Cory Booker by a whopping 54 to 23 percent. That’s the kind of margin McConnell’s probably been hoping for.

Of course, it’s also possible that the DSCC met with Judd, not to talk about giving her money, but to talk about her giving money to them. Wealthy contributors are always useful, even if a quick perusal of contribution data finds that Judd gave but $350 to one Democratic candidate in the 2012 cycle. (The form listed her address as Los Angeles, by the way.)

And that candidate was Rep. Steven Cohen, who represents the Ninth Congressional District in ... Tennessee! She’s already vulnerable on the Volunteer State front: she was a Democratic National Convention delegate last year from Tennessee, and that’s where she’s actually been living. McConnell’s attack ad replays a clip of her saying “Tennessee is home” a number of times. We think the Tennessee issue is maybe her biggest vulnerability. That, and her own grandmother calling her a “Hollywood liberal.”

So that’s how we’ll know Judd is really serious. She’ll make a big deal about actually living in Kentucky, either by buying a property or moving back in to an old family home. After all, what happened to that carpetbagger female Senate candidate who was born in Illinois, lived her adult life in Arkansas, and then ran in New York?

Three words: Senator Hillary Clinton.

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