Actress Ashley Judd, who has reportedly been exploring a Senate run since last December, will announce her candidacy in the spring, msnbc's Howard Fineman reported Sunday. Her candidacy would pit her against Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
The 44-year-old star of "Double Jeopardy" also has a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University and has been a women's rights activist for years. She had met with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to talk about women running for office more than a year ago, Fineman reported.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Judd denied that she was planning on making announcements any time soon.
"I am not sure who is saying this stuff, but it is not I!" Judd said to the website. "I'd prefer as a fan of your journalism that you stay accurate and credible. We told everyone who called us yesterday these stories are fabrications."
Even if Judd remains coy about the reports, Republicans have taken her potential run seriously. Karl Rove's super PAC launched an attack ad against Judd in February, characterizing her as out of step with the culture in Kentucky, ending with the ominous note: “Ashley Judd: An Obama-following, radical Hollywood liberal, who’s right at home in Tennessee—I mean Kentucky.”
Judd, who was born in California but grew up and went to school in Kentucky, was part of the Democratic delegation from Tennessee at the 2012 DNC. Judd has also lobbied against coal mountain-top removal, a major industry in the state that employs thousands of residents.
Analysts said Judd's background will make it easy for McConnell to paint her as a carpetbagging elite. However, with budget battles ahead and low poll numbers in Kentucky, McConnell is still vulnerable, said A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at The Hill.
"If she gets into this primary, she is going clear the field. I don't know another Democrat in all of Kentucky who would step up to an Ashley Judd and be able to have that kind of fundraising prowess," said msnbc contributor Goldie Taylor.
As for Judd herself, she didn't seem fazed by the flurry of speculation about her future plans. On Twitter, at least, she seemed more preoccupied with her dog.
"My beautiful hound, enjoying March's refreshing wind," she wrote.