Ashley Judd meeting with Democratic donors in Louisville, sparks more talk of 2014

02/15/2013 11:41 AM

Potential Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ashley Judd had dinner with Democratic donors and Louisville officials Thursday night at the home of Louisville philanthropist Christy Brown and will be meeting with opponents of mountain top removal mining Friday.

It marked the first meeting in Kentucky Judd has had with potential supporters as she mulls running for the U.S. Senate in 2014 when Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is up for re-election.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth was among those at Thursday’s dinner, his spokesman Stephen George confirmed. Yarmuth was unavailable and George said he didn’t know what was discussed at the meeting. Yarmuth won’t be attending Friday’s meeting, George said.

Brown was unavailable for comment Friday, her assistant said.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon said he was aware of Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend.

“I don’t think it’s my place. Once we get candidates in the race, I’d be happy to meet with them,” Logsdon said. “I’m willing to talk to anyone who wants to take on Senator McConnell.”

Judd also is expected to attend another meeting Friday at Brown’s house in which mountain top removal will be a main topic, confirmed Father John Rausch, a Catholic priest from Stanton. Rausch, who has rallied against that mining practice in Eastern Kentucky, said he was invited to the meeting but can’t attend.

Rausch said it’s no secret that Judd has spoken publicly against mountain top removal. But Rausch said he’s not certain what the meeting means for Judd’s political future.

“Nobody’ made up anybody’s mind yet,” Rausch said. “It will be an exchange of ideas. That’s what we need.

He said Kentuckians deserve more than “senators who are indifferent to the people on the bottom rung.” When asked if he was referring to McConnell, Rausch said “either or both” of McConnell or Kentucky’s junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

But Judd’s connection to more liberal Kentucky Democrats — and the issue of mountaintop removal specifically — has been a flashpoint among Kentucky Democrats. In the last several days, dueling pieces about what that means for a Judd candidacy have run in Roll Call and the Daily Beast.

The opinion piece in the Daily Beast, written by former Kentucky Treasurer and 2007 candidate for governor Jonathan Miller, makes the case that the well-known Judd could win if she frames her campaign as Kentucky’s “No. 1 fan” the way she has as a University of Kentucky basketball fan. He acknowledged that her position on coal will be difficult to defend noting that he was unsuccessful with that position in the 2007 Democratic primary. He was supported by some of the same people Judd met with Thursday night but failed to get enough traction in the race and ultimately dropped out to back Steve Beshear.

“But I’m no Ashley Judd,” Miller wrote. “The media won’t—and can’t—ignore her … Judd’s celebrity would guarantee her more than sufficient opportunity to explain her past statements and share her comprehensive vision with voters. To progressives, this is what makes her unique candidacy so exciting.”

The Roll Call article, meanwhile, quoted Kentucky Democratic consultants Dale Emmons and Jim Cauley who said her candidacy would harm other Democrats on the ballot.

It would be “a catastrophe,” as Cauley put in the article.

Cauley told Pure Politics Friday that the 2012 race in the 6th Congressional District in which incumbent Ben Chandler lost to Republican Andy Barr and his coal-centric message should be a warning.

If Judd runs, “the conversation will be about her being a liberal, Hollywood star. It’s not going to be about (McConnell). And I don’t think that’s the ground we want to be on.”

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • viewer wrote on February 15, 2013 12:06 PM :

    Note to my Dem/Reagan republican friends. If you want to win make a push for Crit Luallen to enter the race. Judd could help Crit with the race. Crit is the only one who has a chance against Mitch. The rest of this is just for show. Talk, write , and beg her to get in the race. If she waits for the governors’ race we will have Mitch for another 6 years. Period

  • steve wrote on February 15, 2013 12:08 PM :

    I hope Ashley Juggs does run she will pack 2 county’s like her buddy Owebummer did we going to have republicans in Frankfort soon to including the governor.

  • viewer wrote on February 15, 2013 01:00 PM :

    I see that Nick Storm will be on KET’s Comment on Ky tonight. Nick if you would send out a message that some want Crit Luallen to put her hat in the ring against Mitch.

  • Eye Opener wrote on February 15, 2013 07:23 PM :

    OMG, are Kentucky Democrats this stupid to even think Judd has a snowballs chance in the Sahara Desert? McConnell and his team are and will be laughing all the way back to Washington DC. This is the reason McConnell only has to come to Kentucky for about 6 weeks every 6 years. Our Party is so dysfunctional and absolutely not team oriented. We want to run a liberal Hollywood anti-coal candidate who lives in Tennessee. Remember Obama lost 115 of 120 counties last election. Chandler who voted against coal lost a seat he should have owned forever. We are not a liberal state, we are center right. We need to run someone who lives in Kentucky, is not against coal, and not a liberal. I hope someone steps up

  • Bruce Layne wrote on February 16, 2013 09:25 AM :

    I read about Ashley Judd running for Kentucky’s US Senate seat in 2014 and I thought it was a joke. A spoof. Political comedy. But I keep reading about it. This joke is getting old. It’s not funny any more. Please stop. You’re starting to scare me.

    Or is this the secret diabolical plan for the Democrats to field a candidate even worse than McConnell? Maybe this is repayment for the Republicans running the unelectable Romneybot against Obama?

  • sam pierce wrote on February 16, 2013 12:13 PM :

    As a Mitch McConnell supporter I hope Ashley Judd is the Democrat nominee. McConnell will win big and his coattails will help all us good Republicans down the ticket. We might take the state house in spite of the redistricting mischief that Stumbo might try to pull. It backfired on Ben Chandler, and hopefully it will backfire on house Democrats in 2014. Go Mitch Go!!! Win Mitch win!!! GOP rules!!!!!!

  • Mike wrote on February 16, 2013 12:53 PM :

    Anyone who refers to the President of the United States as “Obummer” doesn’t even deserve to be posted on this site.

    What about some ideas instead of stupid statements?

  • MikeTrip wrote on February 16, 2013 09:25 PM :

    For the entertainment value I would like to see Ashley run. If you want to read something funny check out her autobiography and her letter to God.

  • Norma Boyd wrote on February 18, 2013 03:52 AM :

    For those who might doubt that Ashley Judd can win, we saw a lot of people who thought President Obama couldn’t win but he did. Kentucky voters need to wake up and get to the polls and cast their vote to elect a new senator Ashley Judd. There is no excuse for Kentuckians to remain ignorant of Mitch and his non-accomplishments for the state of Kentucky and Kentucky people. There are many avenues of information that our voters need to read, speak out and then vote in 2014. Be sure to read Ashley Judd’s credentials along with her loving and caring for Kentucky. She has my vote.

  • Jeanie Embry wrote on February 21, 2013 06:12 PM :

    I’m excited that KY may finally have a candidate that is passionate about issues facing KYians.. besides having the biggest cojones of any KY Democrat I can think of besides Congressman Yarmuth, Judd is a REAL Democrat, an Alben Barkley Democrat.. a give ‘em hell Harry Democrat and one I can most certainly get passionately behind and support!!! We’ve had so many faux Republican candidates disguised as Democrats it will be refreshing to be able to tell the difference for a change!!!!

  • Jeanie Embry wrote on February 21, 2013 06:17 PM :

    Set aside the Orwellian psychobabble.. On The Issues, you get the REAL Mitch McConnell:

    anti-civil rights, He thinks it’s okay to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant, and he’s an advocate of CIA’s torture program,
    pro-business, pro-management, anti-worker,
    pro-incarceration, against rehabilitation..
    anti-public education,
    His voting record actually demonstrates his opposition to energy independence,
    against renewable energy and against energy conservation,
    anti-animal welfare,
    He thinks it’s okay for guns to be sold without trigger locks,
    opposes background checks at gun shows, and actually advocates loosening license & background checks at gun shows.
    anti-public health, anti-senior, anti-women, anti-minorities,
    Against comprehensive immigration reform, doesn’t think Guest Workers should have a path to citizenship but votes to allow more foreign workers into the US for farm work.
    Opposes church-state separation,
    Opposes progressive taxation,
    Voted to deregulate the telecom industry and favors corporate media monopolies,
    He thinks it’s an individual’s right to burn the American flag but that women shouldn’t have the individual right to make choices about their own reproductive health. “Freedom for me but not for thee.” philosophy
    He wants to privatize Social Security and education.
    He favors tort reform even though medical mistakes is one of the leading causes of death in this county just behind heart disease and cancer.
    He thinks same-sex partners don’t deserve the same protections and benefits under the law as heterosexual couples.
    He thinks corporations should be rewarded for moving American jobs overseas.
    He opposes negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug program.
    He continues to obstruct efforts in the Congress to expedite economic recovery unless there’s an earmark in it for a lobbyist or campaign donor.

  • Patrick Quinn wrote on February 28, 2013 06:20 PM :

    She really should stick to “bad acting”…she very good at it.

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