Despite Hollywood actress Ashley Judd’s high-profile political rollout, national Democrats appear to be looking for an alternative Senate candidate in Kentucky to challenge Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell next year. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, for instance, has remained cool to a Judd candidacy. DSCC executive director Guy Cecil told ABC News that Judd is just one of “a handful of quality candidates in Kentucky” and that there is a “deep bench” of challengers to McConnell. Meanwhile, former Democratic senator Wendell Ford recently met with Judd but said the Democratic party might be able to run a “better candidate” than her.
That lead Louisville political columnist Nick Storm to speculate whether Ford and Bill Clinton, the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Kentucky, are “holding out” their support for someone else—someone like 34-year-old secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes. Clinton met with Grimes last week in Owensboro, Howard Fineman reported, to “privately advise” her about her political future. Clinton had written Grimes a personal check for her 2011 race for secretary of state.
Who is Grimes? A native of Maysville, she practiced law in Lexington until deciding to run for secretary of state in 2011. She defeated the sitting secretary of state, Elaine Walker, in the Democratic primary and went on to trounce Republican Bill Johnson by more than 20 points in the general election. Grimes, Fineman writes, is “polite, earnest, and cautious” and has deep Democratic roots; her father, Jerry Lundergan, is a former state party chairman and was a big supporter of both Clintons.
But as much as Grimes is seen as a rising star in Kentucky politics, she’s also known to Democrats and Republicans alike for her self-aggrandizement. Liberal alternative newspaper Leo Weekly mocked Grimes for comparing herself to Kentucky political legend Alben Barkley. “Grimes — who said she would follow in the footsteps of former Gov. Martha Lane Collins after her primary victory — is talented and has the potential to do great things. But that kind of ego-trip should probably wait until you’ve held public office for at least a few days,” Leo Weekly wrote after her election in 2011.
The McConnell campaign, meanwhile, included Grimes in a video highlighting (and poking fun at) the potential Democratic candidates for Senate in 2014. Grimes is shown to be frequently referring to herself in the third person as “Alison Lundergan Grimes.” Watch that video below:
One of Grimes's Democratic allies, house speaker Greg Stumbo, says he believes Grimes is waiting instead to run for another race at the state level--perhaps governor of Kentucky in 2015, as Grimes herself as alluded to before.