Ashley Judd, future senator?

Max Zimbert
The Ticket

Ashley Judd, an actress and philanthropist (AIDS prevention, reproductive health), would not rule out a future campaign against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Friday.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported Judd is eying McConnell's Senate seat, which is up for grabs in 2014. Judd campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2012 and, in 2008, she appeared in an environmental ad campaign for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, in which she was critical of Sarah Palin's position on wildlife protection in Alaska.

College basketball fans will also recognize Judd, who has starred in films including "Double Jeopardy" and "Kiss the Girls," as a ubiquitous presence at men's basketball games at her alma mater, the University of Kentucky.

McConnell, who's been instrumental in upholding the Senate GOP's opposition to Obama's health care overhaul, has long been the scourge of Democrats. During negotiations for financial regulatory reform, he kept his party united in opposition until Republican Sens. Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe, who are leaving the chamber next year, and Susan Collins all crossed party lines to push the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill to Obama's desk in 2010.

McConnell won re-election by 6 points in a closely fought race in 2008. He is married to Elaine Chao, who was George W. Bush's labor secretary for two terms, and the Washington power couple are prolific fundraisers for conservative candidates and causes. In 2008, McConnell's campaign outspent Democrat Bruce Lunsford by about $10 million.

After his re-election, McConnell had pledged to make Obama a one-term president, which became a rallying cry for embattled Democrats on the campaign trail.

McConnell is Kentucky's longest-serving senator in state history. He won his first race by 5,200 ballots, or 0.4 percent of all ballots cast, in 1984. Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, worked on the '84 campaign.

Kentucky hasn't had a Democratic senator since Wendell H. Ford retired in 1999 after a 24-year Senate career. Kentucky has voted for national Republican candidates every four years since Bill Clinton won the state and a second term in 1996.