Tags: Judd | Exit | Kentucky | Senate

Judd's Exit From Kentucky Race Spurs Questions

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Sunday, 31 Mar 2013 12:45 PM

Kentucky's race for senator is still drawing a great deal of potential candidates, even after actress Ashley Judd announced this past week that she does not plan to seek the Democratic nomination.

A front-running Democratic candidate has not yet emerged to run against incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, reports The Hill. In addition, Judd's exit means the Democratic Party will need to find another candidate to keep the race gaining the national attention it needs to finance a fight against McConnell.

In addition, the party's top pick, Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, has not officially said if she will join the race, even though the party sees her as a stronger candidate for the spot. There is speculation that she may prefer to run for governor in 2015.

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Meanwhile, McConnell has already begun his campaign, and has released two advertisements, so any Democrat entering the race will need to work to catch up with him.

McConnell has also been supportive of Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party favorite, including vowing to repeal Obamacare and backing Paul's plea to audit the Federal Reserve.

He also hired Paul's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, to run his campaign, adding connections with Kentucky's grassroots efforts.

But his support may not be enough to appease the state's tea party movement. David Adams, who managed Paul's campaign in 2010, said he has spoken with several candidates, and that McConnell has not convinced tea party backers that he fully backs traditional conservative principles.

Meanwhile, Lundergan Grimes will bring support from the highest levels. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, was Hillary Clinton's Kentucky campaign chairman in 2008. The Clintons are also friendly with the Lundergans, and the Clintons will likely support her race, party leaders believe, which could spur further fundraising efforts on her behalf.

McConnell, though, is bringing his campaign's deep pockets to the race. He spent $21 million to win in 2008, and will likely spend even more in the upcoming race. At the beginning of this year, he had more than $7 million in cash in his campaign war chest.

That may only be a fraction of what he will need though as Democrats see McConnell as being vulnerable and Kentucky as being a good opportunity for picking up a seat.

Several groups, including the Workers’ Voice, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said they are ready to launch ads against McConnell.

McConnell is backed, though by the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce, two powerful forces.

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