Run, Ashley. Run?
It all started when Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said, “If Ashley Judd were to challenge Mitch McConnell it would be the number one race in the country in 2014.”
HuffPo reported on her statement earlier today, which didn’t say yes, but didn’t say no,
“I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I’m very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let’s focus on coming together to keep moving America’s families, and especially our kids, forward.”
Iconic Lexington Photographer Guy Mendes asked via facebook, “I used to think she should come home and run for Governor, but now, there’s an even better idea, namely that AJ come home and beat the pants off…McConnell. What do you all think, can Ashely Judd help us finally Ditch Mitch?” prompting 11 shares, 73 likes, and 23 comments. (Fellow Kentucky natives George Clooney and Johnny Depp were also posited in the responses, but neither have logged the Kentucky-ambassador hours that Judd, as a Shakertown board member, basketball fan, mountaintop removal opponent, and UK postergirl has.)
In her memoir released last year, she wrote, “eastern Kentucky still calls to me. Kentuckians have a deeply ingrained, almost mystical sense of place—a sense of belonging that defines us.”
Characterizing herself in the book as “mostly abstinent,” where the press are concerned, she wrote lovingly of her great Aunt Pauline’s beloved farm in rural Kentucky, which had an outhouse and a well, “It is this home that the press has often conflated with my other homes, writing that I grew up dirt poor without electricity and plumbing.” She didn’t, although there were elements to her life that did seem straight out of a country song (and ended up in more than a few; she is the daughter of Naomi Judd, and sister of Wynonna).
While a student at the University of Kentucky, she worked shifts at WRFL, organized demonstrations against UK’s financial association with apartheid, and she helped lead a student walkout to protest Happy Chandler’s infamous use of the n-word.
In a 2001 interview, she said of her time at UK, “I learned how to read material and relate to it in ways other than just superficially…So much of what you do in any scholarly pursuit is the same as what you do as an actress, in terms of gathering data, thoroughly researching and investigating different scenarios, and then switching off that organizational part of yourself and getting into a much more emotional, intuitive mode, you know?”
Last year, she provided the narration for Kentucky: An American Story, which aired on KET. Filmmaker Daniel Blake Smith said, “She clearly cares very deeply about Kentucky’s past; she was the consummate professional in doing the narration, offering astute suggestions here and there to make it stronger.” She reads Barbara Kingsolver.
Her twitter profile in 2011 identified her as “Actor. Author. Activist. UK Fan.” Today it reads, “Author. Feminist. Wife. Advocate. Public Speaker. “
In 2010, she earned a midcareer Master’s from Harvard’s Kennedy School, which she said must have been in need of “a Sicilian hillbilly rabble rousing actor activist,” though she was initially taken aback by a friend’s suggestion “why aren’t you going to Harvard?” blurting out in response, “why am I not putting a rocket up my ass and flying to the moon?”
While she didn’t say that in response to questions about her prospective senate candidacy, she is not currently a resident of Kentucky, so the ongoing speculation is, for the moment, moot.
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