Actress Ashley Judd continued to stoke speculation about a potential Democratic Kentucky Senate run over the past week, holding meetings with key political players on both the national and state level.
Politico reports that Judd sat down with officials from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee for a private meeting in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. A source told Politico that it was her first official meeting with the DSCC since expressing interest in challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and a strong sign that she was serious about laying the groundwork for a 2014 campaign.
Judd has also reportedly attempted to strengthen her ties to Kentucky, making an appearance at a well-attended dinner late last week featuring the state's top Democratic politicians and operatives.
Judd, a Kentucky native and active supporter of President Barack Obama, has been a fascination in the Bluegrass State since first being floated as a possible contender shortly after the November elections. Recent rounds of polling have shown McConnell to be highly unpopular and particularly vulnerable as he seeks a sixth term, though a February survey testing a McConnell-Judd matchup showed the Republican leading the actress by nine points.
While she's received support from some political operatives and elected officials in the state, not all Democrats are excited at the prospect of Judd's entrance into Kentucky politics. Her skeptics have expressed concern that her status as a strong advocate for liberal policies and a current resident of Tennessee could damage her viability. Others claim that she would be a divisive presence in the state, and could damage Democrats' broader chances in state and local elections.
Republicans aren't waiting around for Judd's official decision to go on the offensive. Earlier this month, Karl Rove super PAC American Crossroads released a $10,000 web ad attacking Judd as a "Hollywood liberal." Rove later promised that the group would continue to "make fun" of Judd as long as she was part of the discussion. McConnell's campaign followed suit earlier this week with a web ad of his own, throwing jabs at Judd and a number of other Kentucky Democrats who have been mentioned as possible challengers.
On top of whichever Democrat emerges to challenge McConnell, the longtime senator could also face a potential challenge from his right. A spokesman for Louisville businessman Matthew Bevin confirmed this week that the conservative had been in discussion with local Tea Party groups about serving as an alternative to McConnell.