Democrats Keep Options Open as Ashley Judd Considers Senate Bid

PHOTO: Ashley Judd

Top national Democrats say it doesn't matter if Ashley Judd runs for Senate in Kentucky. Even without her Hollywood star and fundraising capability, they say taking out the Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is their "top priority."

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil said Monday that Judd is one of "a handful of quality candidates in Kentucky" and "there's actually a deep bench."

Cecil wouldn't discuss the committee's recruitment strategy on a conference call with reporters, but he did mention Judd as well as Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as possible candidates.

"Quality candidates would include folks like the secretary of state and folks like Ashley Judd," Cecil said, calling McConnell "one of the most unpopular senators in the country."

"We're going to be focused on making sure that we recruit and that ultimately a candidate runs who can take on Mitch McConnell and ultimately draw a very strong contrast," Cecil said.

Last week, the Louisville Eccentric Observer reported that the DSCC is reevaluating Judd and is now taking a "serious second look at recruiting" Grimes after they conducted a poll that showed Grimes running better than Judd against McConnell.

When asked about the report, Cecil responded that the committee members "don't spend a lot of time talking to weekly newspapers about our recruitment strategy. That is certainly true in this case." He wouldn't go any further on the topic of recruitment for the spot.

"Beyond that, we typically don't talk about our recruitment efforts and we're going to continue to follow that practice," Cecil said.

Grimes did not return calls for comment. Judd's publicist has said she is currently not doing interviews.

As for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, they say their "first priority" is the "protection and retention of Republican Senators," but spokesman Brad Dayspring also pointed out the many issues Republicans will pounce on (or already have pounced on) if Judd does take on the senate minority leader.

"It's unclear whether or not the Democrats will have a candidate at this point," Dayspring said in a statement to ABC News. "It's difficult to envision how a fading Hollywood star, who currently lives in Tennessee, believes that having children is 'unconscionable,' and that coal is 'unacceptable,' would be able to relate to folks in Kentucky, so it's no surprise the DSCC is having second (if not third) thoughts.

"If Ms. Judd chooses to run, as gossip out of Los Angeles suggests, Kentuckians will want to hear a more in-depth explain of these bizarre views ... after she moves to the state, of course," he said.

Where she lives is one issue that's already being used against her in web videos by both McConnell and Karl Rove-backed superPAC, American Crossroads as well as in a fake fundraising email from the NRSC last week.

Judd, the daughter and half-sister of country singers Naomi and Wynonna Judd, currently lives in the country music capital of Nashville, Tenn. (Wynonna Judd will be a contestant on this season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars"). She must reside in the Bluegrass State if she decides to run, but an informal advisor to Judd said it makes the most sense for her not to live where she grew up, in Ashland in eastern Kentucky, but in Lexington, where she attended the University of Kentucky and often goes for basketball games.

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