Democratic heavy hitters — including Bill Clinton — are quietly trying to woo a new candidate to jump into the race to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as actress Ashley Judd is taking steps toward launching a star-studded campaign of her own.
With fears growing in some Democratic quarters over Judd’s potential candidacy, some prominent Democrats in the Bluegrass State are beginning to set their sights on 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. Among Grimes’s attributes: She lacks political baggage since she’s served barely a year in office, and she hails from a well-connected family influential in Kentucky Democratic politics. But it’s not at all certain if she’ll jump into the race.
Grimes does have the Clintons in her corner. Earlier this month, the former president — a longtime friend of Grimes’s father — privately urged the young secretary of state to mount a Senate bid while assuring Grimes that both he and his wife, Hillary, would get behind her should she decide to take on the powerful Senate GOP leader, according to several sources familiar with the matter.
Attending an event for former Kentucky Sen. Wendell Ford in Owensboro earlier this month, Clinton privately met with Grimes for about 35 minutes, where they discussed her political future. Sources said Clinton made the case that the Senate bid would offer a bigger platform than the governor’s mansion or the U.S. House race in the 6th Congressional District, covering Frankfort and Lexington, which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had hoped she would pursue.
Grimes has also met with officials from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to Kentucky Democratic sources. Both the DSCC and Clinton’s office declined to comment.
Now Grimes would have her own set of major problems, mainly the lack of experience and the fact she'd at best be another Joe Manchin/Heidi Heitkamp, a Red State Dem who would certainly not have the best progressive record on things, especially on the environment. King Coal still rules here in the Bluegrass State, and nobody is getting into office without their blessing. That includes Ashley Judd, folks, so pay attention.
Grimes might roll things back and go after Ben Chandler's old House seat in KY-6 too. I don't know. She could decide to walk away from Washington totally and stake out her claim for Governor, lord knows we need somebody in the D column to follow Dinosaur Steve Beshear.
What I do know is this: I want Mitch McConnell gone, and if the price is I have to be nice to the Clintons long enough for them to use their pull here to actually help somebody other than themselves, I'll take it.