Actress Ashley Judd is seriously exploring a campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2014, Politico reports. She's talked to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), reached out to a pollster, and started doing opposition research on herself.
Judd also has had conversations with EMILY's List, a powerful backer of pro-choice Democratic women candidates.
"She has such great desire for public service and she wants to find the best way to do that,” EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock told Roll Call recently.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) has touted her as a formidable candidate, telling the Courier-Journal that "The money would pour in here as soon as she entered the race.”
An advocate for causes ranging from sex trafficking to mountaintop mining, Judd earned a masters in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2010.
But Judd would face very long odds against McConnell, an entrenched leader and savvy political fighter in a conservative state.
Kentucky has a Democratic governor, but as Stu Rothenberg notes, voters are often willing to elect a minority party for state office, but not federal office. Judd was a campaign trail surrogate for President Obama in 2008 and 2012; Obama got 38 percent of the vote in the state. Her own grandmother recently described her as a "Hollywood liberal." Moreover, Judd currently lives in Tennessee, not Kentucky, so she would need to change her residency to run. And celebrities rarely win high-profile political races.
McConnell has been busily preparing not for a Democratic opponent but for a potential primary on the right. He hired Jesse Benton, Texas Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign manager, to help ward off the possibility of a tea party challenge.
"Leader McConnell is a prohibitive favorite in any match-up, but he knows he has to earn re-election and does not take a single vote for granted," Benton told the Post. "We are building a presidential-level campaign."