Ashley Judd, in a series of Twitter messages, says she will focus on her family… (Andy Lyons / Getty Images )
WASHINGTON -- Ashley Judd put an end to speculation about a potential turn from acting to politics Wednesday, announcing that she would not challenge Mitch McConnell for his Senate seat in 2014.
In a series of Twitter messages, Judd thanked her would-be supporters for their encouragement but said she needed to focus her energy on her family.
“I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader,” Judd wrote. “While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work 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. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth.”
Democrats, with few other obvious GOP targets in the coming midterm election, have identified McConnell as one of their top priorities. As the leader of Senate Republicans, he has stymied much of President Obama’s agenda even though Democrats have held on to the majority throughout his term.
Though the Bluegrass State has voted Republican in each of the last four presidential races, Democrats have continued to have success more locally. All but one of the seven statewide elected officials are Democrats. McConnell had a tough race for reelection in 2008, ultimately winning with 53% of the vote.
Judd’s flirtation with the race had generated wide attention, with a recent speech on women’s issues at a Washington university drawing dozens of political reporters. Anticipating what would have been a premier race, McConnell and other Republicans had lampooned her Hollywood connections and Tennessee roots.
National Democrats had been cool to a possible Judd run. With her now out of the field, speculation will turn to first-term Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Former President Bill Clinton recently met with her to pledge his support, Politico reported last week.
Judd currently plays the first lady in the action film "Olympus Has Fallen," about a terrorist attack on the White House.
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