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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) is pathetically going after Ashley Judd, who is only rumored to be running for Senate, in his newest ad:

Mitch McConnell is running his first campaign ad of the cycle in Kentucky, a short spoof that mocks his potential opponents, including actress Ashley Judd, as unwilling or unviable opponents for the Senate Minority Leader.

The ad splices footage of President Obama calling on citizens to ask questions at rallies, to slapstick-invoking music, to suggest Obama can't find a serious candidate in the state -- and to link whatever candidate emerges to a president who remains unpopular in Kentucky.

The ad uses footage of Judd, who is considering a run, saying "Tennessee is home," and elsewhere: "To me, San Francisco is my American city home." - New York Daily News, 2/19/13

McConnell's ad also mocks Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes who is shown speaking in third person and shows businessman Matthew Barzun, a former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, in a goofy-looking top hat.  Here's the ad:

I know what you're thinking, this ad is pretty stupid, right?  Well keep in mind, this is how McConnell's always attacked his opponents with humorous ads.  Here are the ads McConnell ran against incumbent Senator Walter Huddleston (D) in 1984:

McConnell used a humorous ad in his 1996 ad against then Senate candidate and current governor, Steve Beshear (D. KY) that warned voters to not "Get Besheared" and included images of sheep being sheared.  Bill Clinton won Kentucky but of course McConnell easily won re-election.  McConnell may have a track record with using stupid ads to defeat his opponents but the fact that he is doing it this early in the game, especially against candidates like Judd who are rumored to run, only exposes how vulnerable he is.  The only other incumbent right now who is running campaign spots this early in the game is Senator Max Baucus (D. MT) who is taking a more positive route in revamping his image after his role in killing the public option during the health care reform debate.  It truly is pathetic that McConnell and Karl Rove have to start attacking Democrats like Judd this early in the game and Rove has vowed to release more attack ads on Judd:

“She’s going to get to know that she’s not going to be able to wait until the screenwriters from California and producers make her look good and prepare the ads and give her lots of lines to memorize so that she can handle these things,” Rove told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. “We’re going to make her start saying where she’s coming from.”

Rove’s conservative American Crossroads super PAC debuted the ad dubbed “Ashley’s Story” earlier this week that depicts Judd as an out-of-touch, inexperienced Hollywood liberal who is not even a resident of Kentucky. Judd, daughter of country singer Naomi Judd, currently resides in Tennessee.

“We are making fun of her,” Rove said point-blankly on Fox News. “She is way far out on the left wing of the Democratic Party, which is not very far out left in Kentucky.” - Politico, 2/8/13

I think McConnell and Rove's premature attack ads, which are aimed to discourage Judd from running, are only tempting her to give it a run.  Even Donald Trump said Rove is just making Judd look appealing to voters:

Real estate mogul Donald Trump had harsh words on Wednesday for an American Crossroads ad targeting a potential Ashley Judd Senate campaign in Kentucky.

"They took her at her absolute prime. They made her look great. Most beautiful pictures of her I've ever seen. They had her speaking about our brilliant president, President Obama," Trump complained to conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin. "And what they did basically was make her look great -- and made President Obama look great."

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  Ashley Judd attends Ashley Judd in Conversation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at the United Nations on March 14, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Getty Images)
Judd has been considering challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his Senate seat in 2014, going as far as discussing the possibility with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and doing opposition research to test her political viability in her home state.

"Instead of not saying anything, now [Judd is] at the forefront of running for office," Trump said of the decision to run the ad. "They've already made her a rock star."

Trump has repeatedly criticized American Crossroads founder Karl Rove for his inability to turn a massive campaign war chest into Republican victories in the 2012 election cycle. He recently tweeted that the GOP operative was a "total loser." - Huffington Post, 2/14/13

Now I'm not sure yet if Judd is the right candidate for us but the Daily Beast makes the case for Judd's candidacy:

The media won’t—and can’t—ignore her. While most politicians must rely exclusively on 30-second paid commercials and meagerly parceled out, 15-second, free media soundbites—making any detailed, nuanced discussion of complex issues impossible—Judd’s celebrity would guarantee her more than sufficient opportunity to explain her past statements and share her comprehensive vision with voters. To progressives, this is what makes her unique candidacy so exciting; McConnell’s traditional strategy to completely define and destroy his opponent would be vitiated.

Judd’s great asset, however, is considerably more symbiotic—a sort of spiritual connection to the only state-sanctioned religion in the commonwealth: Kentucky basketball. We are a diverse and often divided state, but by the time March Madness rolls around, we are a cohesive, interdependent community: fans who might disagree sharply on matters of politics, religion, or lifestyle join voices in passionate advocacy of the beloved Wildcats.

By redefining the term “No. 1 fan” in her omnipresent advocacy for her alma mater, Ashley Judd is identified by Kentuckians, above all, as one of us. And once a year, she has stood at Rupp Arena’s center court to perform a hallowed ritual of the Big Blue Nation: after team cheerleaders contort their bodies on the hardwood to spell the first seven letters of the commonwealth’s name, Judd lifts her arms high into the air, and becomes, for one shining moment, the living quintessence of the letter “Y.” The “Y” tradition borders on a holy sacrament in Kentucky; today’s equivalent of a high priest standing at the Great Temple’s altar, reaching toward the heavens, urging the blue-attired congregation to its feet and lifting the faithful into frenzied revival.

In our highly personal brand of politics, that type of emotional connection with average voters is incalculable. And that’s how a political novice could very well wind up as the most personal of senators. - The Daily Beast, 2/15/13

The Daily Beast also believe that Judd's opposition to mountain top removal coal mining won't hurt her because the majority of Kentucky voters object to this type of coal mining.  She's very educated on this issue and it could work in her favor.  

While McConnell and Rove are spending their time going after Judd, the Kentucky Tea Party may have found their ideal candidate:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could see a primary challenge from local businessman Matt Bevin, who sources say is reaching out to Tea Party groups in the state to gauge support for a 2014 Senate run.

Sarah Duran, president of the Louisville Tea Party, told The Hill that Bevin had been in touch with her over the phone to discuss his run multiple times over the past few weeks, and that he met with the group two weeks ago to discuss his interest in the race.

"We met with him to just discuss our feelings about the Senator, our feelings about someone running against him, what the challenges would be, the risks involved," she said.

She added that other Tea Party groups had reached out to Bevin to encourage him to run, and that even "some people that have supported McConnell in the past" had been in touch with him about a potential bid.

Bevin is the owner of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a Connecticut bell-making company founded 160 years ago. He previously worked as CEO of Integrity Asset Management, an investment management firm with offices in Kentucky. - The Hill, 2/18/13

Benvin's personal wealth would give him the advantage he needs over McConnell who has $7 million in the bank for his re-election campaign.  Benvin could fun his own campaign and might be able to pull it off.  It worked for Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson (R. WI) in 2010 who was viewed as a joke in the national press but sadly ended up beating Senator Russ Feingold (D. WI).  

Who knows for sure what's going to happen but I guarantee you this: this is going to be a very expensive and high profile race to watch.  Judd would also be able to self fundraise and rake in big campaign contributions if she decides to run.  We'll have to wait and see.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:33 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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