By RONNIE ELLIS
CNHI News Service
FRANKFORT - 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.
He said he and Judd still haven’t spoken as they have traded return phone calls but, like Clark, Stumbo said he is willing to meet with her and encourage her to consider taking on McConnell.
Stumbo said he’d like to show her his residential subdivision in Floyd County which is located on a reclaimed mountaintop removal site and a joint state-private project to construct a highway through a mountaintop removal site, saving the state substantial costs.
“When you look at them from a distance sometime they don’t look the same as when you look at them up close,” Stumbo said.
He said Judd will have no difficulty in raising money or in generating excitement among voters. And he said she won’t be as much of a drag on conservative Democrats in state House races as McConnell will be for Republicans in those same races.
“Mitch McConnell will drag the Republicans down in much the same manner, in my opinion, perhaps as much as the president did in this last race,” Stumbo said, referring to the unpopularity in Kentucky of Barack Obama.
Then Stumbo really warmed to his subject.
McConnell is “Doctor Doom, he’s the father of gridlock,” Stumbo said. “Any man who calls himself a United States senator, who makes his first and highest priority being that an American president would fail and not be re-elected, is a man who doesn’t deserve the title of United State senator.”
McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, zeroed in on one of Judd’s perceived vulnerabilities in coal producing Kentucky.
“If we wait enough, Speaker Stumbo may oppose and then support just about anybody if his political party runs out of options,” Benton said in an email. “I guess he decided that protecting coal country takes a back seat to naked partisanship.”
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.
By RONNIE ELLIS
- State News
Panel moving slowly in sexual harassment probe
A special committee of state House lawmakers who are supposed to recommend action on charges against a former colleague met again Thursday — but it met behind closed doors only to tell reporters afterward its members decided “to move forward.”
Senate Democrat to run for judge-exec in Rowan
The Democratic minority in the Kentucky state Senate might get a bit slimmer as Sen. Walter “Doc” Blevins of Morehead Thursday filed to run for Rowan County Judge/Executive.
Republicans eye House takeover in ‘14
The 2014 U.S. Senate race for the seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell may be the most important in the nation, but it might be the second-most important election inside the state.
Kentucky Power seeks to withdraw rate increase
Kentucky Power is asking the state Public Service Commission to withdraw its June request for a base rate increase to recover costs associated with its purchase of half interest in a West Virginia power plant.
Matt Bevin makes it official
Matt Bevin, the Louisville investment manager who’s trying to lead a Republican primary insurgency to topple incumbent U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, said Friday those seeking change in the Washington must change who they vote to send there.
Request for Big Sandy Plant rehearing denied
Kentucky’s Public Service Commission has rejected the attorney general’s request for a rehearing on its earlier decision to allow Kentucky Power Company to purchase half interest in a West Virginia power plant.
Governor’s son running for attorney general in 2015
Following months of speculation as he attended political events around the state to shake hands and meet potential supporters, Andy Beshear, son of Gov. Steve Beshear, announced Thursday he will run for attorney general in 2015.
McConnell, Grimes volley over coal issues
When they aren’t arguing about the new healthcare law or where the other raises money, likely foes in next year’s U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, argue over who is the biggest supporter of the coal industry.
McConnell calls Obamacare ‘monstrosity’
Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday called the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — “a monstrosity,” demanding its full repeal during a press conference he called specifically to talk about the law.
Federal court lets latest legislative maps stand
A three-year battle over how to draw new state legislative lines has apparently come to a close as a three-judge federal panel issued its final order Thursday.
- More State News Headlines
- Panel moving slowly in sexual harassment probe