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Hollywood Cachet Doesn't Always Cash In

Ashley Judd might run for Senate in Kentucky, but the actress is unlikely to wrest the seat from McConnell

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Judd would be a powerhouse fundraiser nationwide, but her Hollywood appeal isn’t likely to win over voters in Kentucky.

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Today’s question: What do the following people have in common: actors Alec Baldwin and Robert Redford, former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr and former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter?

Answer: Each of them is a bona fide star, and each was mentioned at some point as a possible candidate for the House or Senate. None of them ever ran.

You can now add actress Ashley Judd to the list of celebrities mentioned as possible candidates for Congress.

I have no idea whether she will run. But EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock has talked up the possibility of a Judd candidacy, probably for the Kentucky Senate seat currently held by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. His seat is up in 2014.

Judd, who is the daughter of country singer Naomi Judd and half-sister of singer Wynonna Judd, has been politically interested and active for years, and according to Schriock, the actress has not “closed the door” on a possible bid.

Certainly some celebrities from the entertainment industry have been elected to office. Ronald Reagan comes to mind quickly, as do former Reps. Fred Grandy, R-Iowa, of “Love Boat” TV fame, and Ben Jones, D-Ga., of the “Dukes of Hazzard,” and former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., who appeared in “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard 2,” among other feature films.

But being a celebrity isn’t enough. The late Nancy Kulp, who is probably best remembered for her many years as Miss Hathaway on “The Beverly Hillbillies” sitcom, got only a third of the vote as the 1984 Democratic nominee in an uphill race against then-Rep. Bud Shuster in a very Republican district in south-central Pennsylvania.

I don’t doubt Judd’s passion for politics or public policy. I don’t doubt her ability to raise money — lots of money — from both the entertainment community and from fans and admirers. And I don’t doubt her ability to get coverage for her candidacy on Entertainment Tonight and MSNBC or in the pages of America’s most prominent print publications.

I doubt her ability to get elected to the Senate from Kentucky, or even from her home state of Tennessee, for that matter.

We judge candidates for office very differently from entertainers or average folks, and a Democrat who probably can be labeled as a liberal — Judd’s grandmother recently called her a “Hollywood liberal” — doesn’t stand much of a chance of winning a federal race in Kentucky, particularly in 2014.

For one thing, Judd now lives in Tennessee. She was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, and she campaigned for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

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