Politics

Why is Ashley Judd campaigning everywhere but Kentucky?

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Ashley Judd continues to drop hints during speeches and events that she’s gearing up to run for the U.S. Senate.

But oddly, the liberal actress seems to be doing this everywhere but in Kentucky, the state where she acknowledges she might move to mount a campaign against Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Her recent public schedule baffles political observers who have talked with The Daily Caller, because it plays into one of her biggest weaknesses: While Judd was raised in the Bluegrass state, she currently lives in Tennessee, and hasn’t re-established her residency in Kentucky yet.

Those watching the race, therefore, are asking: Why isn’t Ashley Judd spending more time in Kentucky if she’s really serious about a run? (RELATED: Judd has history of bizarre comments)

“For someone who’s talking about running for Senate in Kentucky, you’d think she might show up there every once in awhile,” a Republican aide responded when TheDC asked about Judd’s recent public schedule.

“Forget that she hasn’t established residency. Kentucky may be the only state in the country she hasn’t even been to in the past two months,” the aide continued. “She does realize you can’t run a campaign from Jimmy Kimmel’s couch, right?”

Here are some recent examples of Judd’s public appearances:

– On March 22, Judd made headlines at the American Counseling Association’s 2013 conference by saying she expects to get “$40 million worth of” criticism, a statement appearing to indicate she’s ready for a nasty campaign. This event was in Cincinnati, Ohio.

– On March 18, Judd made an appearance on the red carpet for the movie “Olympus Has Fallen,” a film she stars in with Gerard Butler. This event was in Los Angeles.

– On March 6, Judd gave a speech to Project Harmony’s annual Speaking of Children event, getting a standing ovation after discussing her history of sexual abuse. This event was in Omaha, Nebraska.

– On March 1, Judd gave a well-publicized speech on women’s reproductive health before a crowd of college students and reporters, hinting at her future plans by slyly asking at one point, “Is there an elephant in the room?” This speech was in Washington D.C.

None of these events took place in Kentucky.

Still, she hasn’t completely avoided the Bluegrass state. Judd, who has been known to attend University of Kentucky basketball games, reportedly had a private dinner with Democrats in the state last month, the Huffington Post reported.

The left-leaning website reported that Judd told attendees at the dinner, “I have been raped twice, so I think I can handle Mitch McConnell.”

Publicists for Judd didn’t return an email seeking comment for this story. Earlier this month, spokeswoman Cara Trippicchio told TheDC they weren’t commenting because Judd hadn’t made her mind up yet on a run.

“As you know, Ashley has not definitively decided whether or not she will run for office,” Trippicchio said by email. “Therefore, I am declining participation in your story at this time.”

Republicans in the state, meanwhile, are already hitting her over the issue.

“If Ms. Judd has anything resembling a cohesive strategy, it is certainly lost on me,” a McConnell ally from Kentucky told TheDC.

“She calls San Francisco home, lives in Tennessee and winters in Scotland, so you’d think she would want to connect with Kentucky and speak to folks here, not parade around the country,” the ally said. “And, the one day she did actually come the Commonwealth, all she did was meet with a small group of limousine liberals in Louisville.”

The Republican added: “She is doing everything to make this race a Mitch McConnell landslide before it even starts.”

If she decides to run, Judd needs to establish residency no later than November, as state law requires candidates to have been residents for a year before the election. She still lives outside Nashville, Tenn.

During her speech in Cincinnati on Friday, Judd — perhaps jokingly — told the crowd that she’d use her famous mother’s garage as a campaign headquarters, according to local media reports.

The problem? Her mother, country singer Naomi Judd, doesn’t live in Kentucky.

A campaign headquarters in Tennessee isn’t going to help her win votes.

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