Ashley Judd Considering Running for Kentucky's U.S. Senate Seat

Actress Ashley Judd is said to be seriously considering running against the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, for a seat representing her home state of Kentucky.

In recent weeks, reports that Judd, a Democrat, has discussed a possible 2014 campaign with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and a Democratic pollster. She is also said to be conducting opposition research on herself to gauge her weaknesses.

Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth told Politico:

“She is doing all the things that a serious candidate exploring a race should do. I think there are a lot of people, and I was one of them, who wanted to let her know that her candidacy would be an exciting prospect for us.”

McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, was careful not to comment directly on Judd's aspirations, but warned that the Republican won't go easy on whoever runs for his seat, stating:

“It’s going to sting. We’re going to make sure that you don’t come out with your nose clean. We’re going to drive your negatives up and very aggressively and publicly litigate your record before the citizens of Kentucky.”

Judd is also said to be considering a 2016 bid against freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). This would be much less daunting task than taking on McConnell.

When Judd was asked about her political aspirations, she recently said that she was "honored" by suggestins that she run for office. A spokesman for Judd declined to comment on the latest rumors of a possible Senate bid.

Judd, 44, attended the Democratic National Convention in September as a delegate from Tennessee, where she currently lives with her husband, Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti. An outspoken advocate for abortion rights and environmental causes, Judd is an eigthth-generation Kentuckian. She graduated from the University of Kentucky and holds a master's degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.