Ashley Judd brought star power to a potential US Senate run, but she had negatives. Now GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has to worry about another young woman the Democrats are wooing to run against him.
Republicans are chortling over the long line of Democrats who have said they won’t run against Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in 2014, the top Republican in the Senate.
The Democrats are “zero for 10” in recruitment for the race, the National Republican Senatorial Committee declared Thursday, following actress Ashley Judd’s announcement that she’s out.
But Senator McConnell, who is trying for an unprecedented (for Kentucky) sixth term, can’t sit easy. Polls show he’s unpopular, both on the left and the tea-party right, and Democrats have another potential candidate in the wings: Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Former President Bill Clinton met with Secretary Grimes earlier this month and encouraged her to run for the Senate, not the House or for governor, as she is reportedly considering, according to ABC News. Grimes is young, photogenic, and politically connected. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, is a former state party chairman and longtime supporter of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The 2014 fight for the Senate – currently controlled by the Democrats, 55 to 45 – got hotter this week with the announcement that Sen. Tim Johnson (D) of South Dakota is retiring. That seat is now a prime pickup opportunity for the Republicans. But if the GOP is going to have a shot at taking back the Senate, it needs to hold onto seats like McConnell’s.
McConnell should worry about Grimes, because of the stark generational contrast and her gender, says Jennifer Duffy, Senate analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
“He could be faced with a candidate who’s going to be more difficult to run against, more difficult to define,” Ms. Duffy told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Ms. Judd brought to the table star power, deep Kentucky roots, and Democratic kudos for her political activism, but she has never run for office – and she lives in Tennessee. Both McConnell and Republican strategist Karl Rove had already made Web ads ridiculing Judd.