FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — As Democrats encourage actress Ashley Judd to jump into Kentucky's U.S. Senate race and Republicans take every opportunity to call her a Hollywood liberal, a University of Kentucky political scientist says Judd is nearing a deadline to make a decision.
"If she doesn't declare herself in the next 10 days, I think she will have already made a very serious mistake," political scientist Ernie Yanarella said Tuesday. "She has to define herself, before she gets defined by those who are her opponents."
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday he talked a second time with Judd last week and is convinced she would be "an effective and formidable" challenger to Sen. Mitch McConnell.
State GOP Chairman Steve Robertson, meanwhile, sent a letter to all of the state's Democratic lawmakers raising concerns about Judd's positions on a wide range of issues that he insists are out of step with average Kentuckians. Among them were statements opposing coal, the mining of which employs some 15,000 people in the state.
Judd, a former Kentucky resident now living in Tennessee, has been talking to Democratic leaders about challenging McConnell in next year's election, but hasn't said whether she will get into the race.
Yanarella said Democrats clearly see Judd as their best chance of defeating McConnell, though he said she would need to get the focus off of her well-documented political views and onto McConnell's record.
To win the Senate seat, Yanarella said Judd would have to show that McConnell "has been so deeply absorbed in Republican Party national concerns that he has woefully neglected the pressing needs of Kentuckians."
Defeating McConnell would be the Democrats' biggest prize of the 2014 election. His seat is one of 14 that Republicans are defending while Democrats try to hold onto 21, hoping to retain or add to their 55-45 edge.
McConnell already has a hefty campaign bank account, with $7.4 million remaining of the $10 million he has already raised.