Stumbo says he'll encourage Judd to challenge McConnell but wants to talk with her about coal

02/28/2013 02:38 PM

While some Kentucky Democrats have been skeptical of a potential Ashley Judd candidacy for U.S. Senate, House Speaker Greg Stumbo is no longer among them, saying Thursday he would encourage her to run.

“When I talk to her I’m going to encourage her as I would any other candidate that this is a winnable race,” he said. Stumbo went on to blast Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, calling him “Dr. Doom” and “the father of gridlock.”

Stumbo and Judd have traded phone messages in recent days. He said she left him another message on his work phone last night.

Stumob dismissed the notion that Judd might hurt conservative Democratic legislative candidates if McConnell paints her as being too liberal for Kentucky.

He acknowledged that it might “be tough” for Eastern Kentucky Democrats to support her because of her statements against mountain top removal. He said he does want to talk to Judd about the importance of coal and show her examples of development as a result of mountaintop removal, such as the housing development and golf course at Stonecrest in Floyd County where Stumbo has a home.

But he also said that process of mountain top removal is a “dinosaur” and on its way out.

McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said the speaker’s comments indicate that he is more concerned with promoting his party than his home region.

“If we wait enough, Speaker Stumbo may oppose and then support just about anybody if his political party runs out of options. I guess he decided that protecting coal country takes a back seat to naked partisanship,” Benton said.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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