Will Ashley Judd Challenge Mitch McConnell for Senate? Kentucky Democrats Think So


Those in Washington who would be pouring money into Judd's campaign and helping steer it if she is the nominee are keeping their lips sealed for the moment.

Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said they "aren't talking about recruitment" in Kentucky or elsewhere, but "whoever is the nominee in Kentucky is going to be incredibly well-funded and has a good chance of beating Mitch McConnell," noting the senator's mixed approval ratings.

Not all Democrats are jumping on the Judd bandwagon, though. Some are loudly voicing their opposition because they believe she is too liberal for most Kentuckians and will drag down other Democrats.

Longtime Democratic consultant Jim Cauley said Kentucky Democrats are worried.

"She's got to ask, how does she connect with an average Kentuckian with issues like immense poverty and lack of education," Cauley said. "Her life experience doesn't seem to connect with that."

Cauley said the political consultants that Judd has circling her can only "see dollar signs."

"I hope she is listening to someone who doesn't just have dollar signs in front of her face," Cauley said before a note of caution. "Her life is going to get ready to be picked apart, divorce and all. I've watched (McConnell) dismantle people." (Judd announced her divorce from her husband of 11 years just last month. McConnell is also divorced).

Cauley says state Democrats are worried they will lose the state House of Representatives. Obama lost the state in 2012, though Democrats actually have an advantage in voter registration. Democrats are a minority in the state Senate and are uneasy about the governor's race in 2015.

"That would turn Kentucky from purple to completely red and that breaks my heart, but if they want to run at it, run at it," Cauley said.

Cauley was President Obama's campaign manager for his 2004 senate race in Illinois. Some Kentucky Democrats have asked him to call the president to try and get him to ask Judd not to run.

Cauley's response? Obama has "bigger fish to fry."

Yarmuth says he knows of the concern, but doesn't think Democrats should worry.

"I argue that the energy and excitement she will create with her campaign will boost turnout for the people who will vote for not just her, but Democrats down the ballot," Yarmuth said.

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