Actress Ashley Judd acknowledges the crowd after being introduced at the 17th Kentucky Society Bluegrass Ball in Washington Saturday.
(Photo: Stephen J Boitano, Gannett)
WASHINGTON - Actress and activist Ashley Judd said Saturday she is "taking a close look" at running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the 2014 race.
Judd would not say whether she had decided to mount a campaign, but her brief comments in an interview with the Courier-Journal and Politico were the strongest indication yet that she may be a serious candidate.
"The people of Kentucky need a fighter," Judd said as she walked through a Washington hotel lobby on her way to the Kentucky Society of Washington's Bluegrass Ball. "And certainly going back 10 generations, I've got some fighters from those hills in my family."
Judd has been the focus of intense speculation as a potential Democratic challenger to McConnell, Kentucky's most powerful Republican and a member of the Senate since 1985.
Until now, Judd has been responding to media queries about her plans only through a representative.
McConnell could not immediately be reached for comment. He was not attending the Bluegrass Ball.
Arriving at the ball in a light pink strapless gown she called her "poofy dress," Judd was the talk of attendees at the event - among Republicans as well as Democrats.
"I am incredibly honored and, frankly, overwhelmed," the actress said. "that the people of Kentucky are interested in me representing them is the greatest honor of my life so far."
"I am certainly taking a close look at it," she said.
Asked when she would make a decision, Judd said, "There's no time frame."
"As soon as I know anything - after I've cleared it with family with whom I've made promises that they'd be the first to know - you will be up to date," she said.
When pressed with more questions, Judd smiled and said, "That's all for now."
McConnell, known for fiercely attacking his opponents, has so far been reserved about a possible Judd run, saying only that he liked her films. He has been under pressure lately from the tea party because of his role in helping to negotiate a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said he is convinced that Judd is seriously contemplating a race against McConnell.
"And I'm convinced she has a passion for service to Kentucky, and I know she thinks she has some progressive ideas for moving Kentucky forward," Yarmuth said.
The Louisville congressman said Judd would be a "magnificent, energizing force for Kentucky politics."
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said his impression is that Judd is seriously looking at a Senate race, adding she "would be a formidable candidate."
James R. Carroll, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal