After months of speculation, actress Ashley Judd announced that she would not run against Mitch McConnell for a Senate seat in Kentucky. The topic of Judd’s candidacy has been widely discussed amongst political junkies who wondered if her brand of progressive politics would be hinderance to her in red Kentucky. Even though McConnell is highly unpopular, it just seemed unlikely that Judd would be able to topple him.
Still, there is probably quite a few of you who are upset that Judd isn’t running and I can’t fully blame you. Judd is very famous and very progressive which means that she is going to have a lot more fans than your average aspiring politician. After Elizabeth Warren’s political rise, it seemed that several activists were hoping to strike again.
An Ashley Judd Senate candidacy in 2014 is not happening. If you are a reader of this blog then you understand my views on her candidacy. Still, I know that several of you might have essentially conceded the seat already.
I am hear to tell you that you shouldn’t give up on that seat and you should be more excited about Kentucky Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes.
You may have heard the name as of late, especially as speculation continued to run rampant that a Judd campaign announcement was imminent. Alison Lundergan Grimes is the name that is second-most mentioned when the list of Democratic challengers to Mitch McConnell was created.
But she’s still widely unknown when it comes to the national public that were clamoring for Ashley Judd. Grimes is not as progressive as Judd and that is a detriment to several party loyalists but she represents the best shot to take the seat in 2014.
Grimes is a young (only aged 34 as of this writing), up-and-comer in Kentucky politics and with the belief that AG (and 2010 nominee) Jack Conway is seeking the Governor’s office, the Senate might be Grimes’s best shot at a promotion. Grimes received the highest percentage of votes for any Democratic statewide official in 2011 (including Conway and popular Governor Steve Beshear) and received accolades for her stance against proposed Voter ID laws.
Also a noteworthy development in Grimes’s young political career is how the day that Judd announced she wouldn’t run, a military voting bill that she championed that allows military members stationed abroad to vote online. While her stances on other issues remain unknown as of right this second, it’s thought that she will likely be to Judd’s right on some issues including mountaintop removal and coal mining.
But if your number one goal is to defeat Mitch McConnell this year, then Alison Lundergan Grimes should’ve been at the top of your list. Grimes is to the left of McConnell and would be an instant upgrade while showing that voters in a red state repudiated the Senate leader of the Republican Party.
Grimes may not get as much netroots support as Judd might have had but she will have the Clinton family machine in her back pocket given the close ties of the Lundergan and Clinton families. She will have the advantage of running against a deeply unpopular incumbent that is one of the faces of the Republican Party and her youth would only be a boon. Grimes will also have the unwavering support of the state Democratic Party as opposed to Judd who may not have had that. Remember Senate races, while seemingly national, are still a statewide only contest. Judd’s national popularity is one thing but state popularity may very well be another.
The great news in this though is that Grimes has a clear field if she chooses. Also good news that might be ignored in the coming months to follow is that Ashley Judd has significantly enhanced her political profile. She has emerged from a political activist to someone who is willing to get involved into the legislative portion of politics. She can run for Congress in her home state of Tennessee if she wants it. She can be a sought after speaker and is also someone whose endorsement will hold a little bit more weight.
Trust me she isn’t going anywhere either.
But let’s give Alison Lundergan Grimes our full support.