By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - Ashley Judd said Wednesday she will not run for the U.S.
Senate against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
The actress-activist, who had been considered a top contender for the Democratic nomination, announced her decision on Twitter.
serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities
and energy at this time need to be focused on my family," Judd said.
"Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the
Democrats have made McConnell, the Senate's top
Republican, a prime target for defeat in 2014. Judd, who grew up in
Kentucky but no longer lives there, had been making the rounds in the
state and in Washington assessing the race with the help of pollsters,
Democratic lawmakers and strategists.
Her support for President
Obama and some of her past statements - such as proclaiming herself
"aggressively and delightfully radical" - were mocked by American
Crossroads, a conservative super PAC, which also took issue with
Tennessee address. GOP strategist Karl Rove vowed there would be more
attacks if Judd jumped into the race.
Public opinion polls in
Kentucky have shown McConnell is vulnerable. The Democratic-leaning firm
Public Policy Polling found in December that Judd would be the top
choice of Democratic voters for the nomination and would trail McConnell
by four percentage points in a hypothetical matchup.
executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told
reporters recently that Judd and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison
Lundergan Grimes were among the "quality candidates" for the party.
Grimes, who was elected in 2011, has been considering the Senate race
and recently received encouragement from former President Bill Clinton, a
friend of the family. Clinton was also said to have encouraged Judd,
according to ABC News.
Judd and her husband, Dario Franchitti,
announced in January that they were divorcing after 10 years of
marriage. Franchitti is a Scottish race car driver who won the 2007
Judd had told Democrats she would make a
decision before the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Her public appearances
lately, including one at a women's health forum at George Washington
University, had generated much interest in part because of the possible
In her series of tweets, Judd said she enjoyed
speaking to people in Kentucky "who expressed their desire for a fighter
for the people and a new leader."
She vowed that she will
continue to work hard "to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met
by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people
and their needs, dreams and great potential."
Rep. John Yarmuth,
D-Ky., who had been talking up a possible Judd candidacy, had said
recently he would be surprised if the actress did not challenge
Yarmuth spokesman Stephen George said Wednesday that
while the congressman is "disappointed that she didn't make this race
because she would have been a strong candidate, he's confident Kentucky
Democrats will have a strong candidate against Sen. McConnell, who is
the least popular senator in the country."
Contributing: James R. Carroll, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal