Democratic state House Sen. Greg Stumbo said Thursday he thinks actress Ashley Judd will be “a formidable” opponent should she choose to run against Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.
McConnell’s campaign manager responded by accusing Stumbo of “naked partisanship.”
Stumbo and Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, revealed Thursday that Judd had sought to contact each of them about a meeting to discuss such a race.
McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, is expected to be a major target for the national Democratic Party when he seeks election to his sixth term in 2014. But several prominent Kentucky Democrats have been reluctant to make the race in a conservative state, some because they have their eyes on state offices in the 2015 elections for constitutional offices.
Judd has attracted national attention because of her celebrity, name recognition and presumed ability to raise significant money for the campaign and to energize loyal Democrats both inside and outside of Kentucky.
But some Kentucky Democrats — and McConnell’s campaign — point to Judd’s opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining as a negative she’d have to overcome to win votes in eastern Kentucky. In the past, Stumbo has echoed those comments.
But Stumbo sounded more enthusiastic Thursday.
“Ashley Judd, if she chooses to get into this race, will make a formidable candidate by the time the race is over,” Stumbo said. “I am convinced of that. Because obviously, Mitch McConnell is being viewed as the father of gridlock, the master of what’s wrong in Washington and people know that now.”
Stumbo said Judd is a “fresh face” and his impression is that she’s “a problem-solver,” but he thinks she needs to adjust her views on coal and coal mining.
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