Update: at 5:00 p.m. EST, Ashley Judd tweeted: After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate. I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won’t be me at this time, I will continue to work as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky familities are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth. Thank you.
While speaking to the American Counseling Association, liberal actress and activist Ashley Judd coyfully hinted that she may indeed make a run for the Senate. Judd joked that her mother, country music legend Naomi Judd, can’t wait to turn her garage into a campaign headquarters.
Her comments have only fueled speculation that she has taken interest in challenging conservative incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the 2014 midterm elections.
If elected, Judd would join a growing list of Hollywood transplants who made the jump into politics. Other notables include: Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarznegger, Jesse Ventura, Clint Eastwood, Fred Thompson, Shirley Temple Black and Sony Bono.
But is D.C. ready for a yet another dose of Hollywood? And more importantly, what would even qualify the Kiss the Girls star for public office?
Over 2o years ago, as a senior at the University of Kentucky, Ashley Judd was accepted into the Peace Corps. She chose to forgo both an official degree and the volunteer program to move to Hollywood and pursue a career in acting. It took 17 years until Judd finally obtained that Bachelor’s Degree in French. In 2010, she received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard (she graduated with a near-straight-A average), and revived her passion for social and economic issues in the world.
Judd has been in the spotlight for the people and causes she has supported throughout the years. In both 2008 and 2012, she supported Barack Obama for president, campaigning for him in various swing states and serving as a member of the Tennessee delegation in this past election. However, if Judd was to run against McConnell, she would have to reestablish residency in Kentucky.
Judd has been the global ambassador for YouthAIDS, a program under Population Services International, since 2002 and two years later became one of its Board of Directors. She has visited countries such as the Congo and Thailand to share knowledge about the deadly virus and bring attention to issues of poverty and illness in those countries. According to the organization’s website, her work as ambassador has been the subject of three award-winning documentaries, shown in over 150 countries. Along with YouthAIDS, Judd has become vocal with its sister initiative “Five & Alive,” which reaches out to children under five to offer prevention and treatment for pneumonia, malaria and water-borne illness.
The actress’ resume just doesn’t stop there, her list of charities are wide-ranging including the Listening Campaign, Creative Coalition and Women for Women International. In her memoir All That Is Bitter, Judd chronicles how service and activism has helped her heal from depression.
Judd even lent her support to endorsing the Violence Against Women’s Act, lobbying its necessity to lawmakers. McConnell previously voted against this act, which could hurt him with female voters in the midterm cycle. Her work with PSI also has given her experience meeting with world leaders, lawmakers and other influential people throughout the country. Her Hollywood connections could boost her favorability among progressives, as it could bring money and notable support to the campaign.
Her official website include blog posts, where she offers her opinion about hot topics like equal pay. Making her stance clear, Judd wrote, “the president and this administration take a back seat to no one on promoting women in the workforce.” Most recently, Judd talked about sexual assault in the military, another issue that has the potential to surface in an election year. Both the Huffington Post and CNN have featured opinion pieces she’s written.
And while Judd might have a unique set of qualifications, she still hasn’t formally declared her political intentions. This hasn’t stopped Republicans from proactively targeting the actress. Karl Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, released an Web ad which attacked Judd’s support for Obama and brought attention to her Tennessee residency. Team McConnell also seems to consider Judd a threat, releasing a three-minute ad targeting Judd and labeling her “Obama’s Kentucky Candidate.”
A recent poll shows Judd trailing McConnell by nine points, but 2014 is still a long way off. Public Policy Polling called McConnell the most “unpopular senator in the country,” with a 55% disapproval rating.