The Hollywood actor Ashley Judd disappointed legions of fans – and possibly Republican activists – by announcing on Wednesday that she will not be running for a Senate seat in Kentucky.
The star of such hit films as Double Jeopardy and Kiss The Girls has recently been hotly rumoured to be considering a dramatic entry into politics, in order to take on the powerful Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. But in an announcement posted on her Twitter feed, Judd said that she needed to concentrate on her family rather than run for office.
"After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities and energy at this time need to be focused on my family," she said. Judd and her racing car driver husband, Dario Franchitti, recently announced they were splitting after 11 years of marriage.
Judd said that she had engaged in a serious exploration of a run for office and had spoken to many people in the state about her chances of success. "I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people and new leader," she said. "While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work as as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people their needs, dreams, and great potential."
The prospect of such a glamorous figure running for the Senate in Kentucky had cast a huge media spotlight on the race. It had also prompted Republicans to run a pre-emptive attack ad against her, despite the fact she had not even declared that she would enter the race. Backed by top GOP strategist Karl Rove, the ad slammed Judd along familiar lines, as a Hollywood liberal who would be out of touch with the ordinary people of Kentucky.
The ad showed Judd speaking in favour of President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms and noted that she is not a Kentucky resident, as she currently lives in Tennessee. One line in the commercial adopted a mocking tone and asked: "Isn't that what we need: Ashley Judd, an Obama-following, radical Hollywood liberal who is right at home here in Tennessee. I mean Kentucky."
Though the Judd family has roots in the state and attended the University of Kentucky, such hardcore lines of attack in a potentially winnable seat have reportedly unnerved some local Democrats. Reports have emerged painting some senior party advisers as being concerned that Judd's celebrity status would make her an easy target for Republican attacks and perhaps make it harder to unseat McConnell, the Senate minority leader. In February Jimmy Cauley, a long time Kentucky Democratic strategist, told Roll Call that a Judd run would be "a catastrophe" for other Democrats in the state, who might get dragged down with her if she lost.
Though other Kentucky Democrats had rallied to her banner and called her a strong possible candidate, it now seems as if Judd has fallen on her sword. However, there is one consolation for Judd's political ambitions. In her current hit film, the action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, which features a terror attack on the White House, Judd plays the First Lady.
[Image via Flickr user Genevieve719, Creative Commons licensed]