This isn’t as goofy as it sounds, as there is a lot of buzz surrounding the possibility that Judd, a Kentucky-born country-signer-turned-actress who despite living in Tennessee can often be spotted at University of Kentucky basketball games, will be challenging Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell for his seat in 2014.
This probably won’t happen, as Judd would have little chance to win as a Hard Left figure in a deeply conservative state like Kentucky is and she wouldn’t likely survive a critical examination of her policy views and the command of facts lying behind them. Which, translated, means Ashley Judd is a dunce and it wouldn’t take long to expose her as such.
But a peculiar ad is hitting the airwaves in Kentucky courtesy of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads outfit anyway…
One wonders what the point of this is.
First of all, if you’re Republican you WANT Ashley Judd to run for the Senate in Kentucky. She’s a bad candidate with a history of stupid statements and a fairly obnoxious, typical Hollywood starlet attitude. She makes eye-rolling declarations about her role in the world on a regular basis. And she’s a shrill left-winger. Most of all, though, she’s ignorant in the typical way most Hollywood lefties are ignorant.
Judd is precisely who you want to run against if you’re Mitch McConnell, and she’s precisely who you want to see representing the Democrats in an election if you’re Karl Rove and you’re trying to resurrect some momentum for the Republican Party in Senate elections.
So why would you try to bloody her up before she even decides to run? Why wouldn’t you hold your fire until she actually gets into the race? Is this a long-shot attempt to keep Judd out and so clear the field for McConnell’s re-election? And if so, why?
Republicans should want as many high-profile fights based on ideology as possible, and particularly in red states like Kentucky. Republicans win high-profile ideological fights on a fairly consistent basis even in purple states. It’s rarely ideology which hurts the GOP; it’s usually distractions which do them in. A former employee who turns out to be an illegal alien. Goofy statements which could be twisted into a “War On Women” narrative. And so forth.
To short-circuit such a fight in Kentucky is counterproductive. Scare Judd off and you might end up with a competent Democrat opponent for McConnell who’s able to sell himself or herself as a Joe Manchin-style conservative and then run against McConnell for being part of the DC establishment. That might actually be a scary proposition; a lot scarier, in fact, than a race against Judd which could be styled as Republicans vs. Obama, or if you prefer the Republican Minority Beltway Establishment against the poisonous, left-wing Hollywood idiocracy.
For a smart political operator as Rove bills himself to be, particularly lately as he launches an ill-named and ill-advised Conservative Victory Project which purports to vet candidates for “electability” in Republican primaries, this seems like a remarkably dumb move. Rather than vetting unelectable Republican politicians he’s doing it for Democrats, and in the process he’s serving to improve the field for the side he purportedly wants to beat.
That’s bad strategy, and it’s a pretty good indication that Rove and his pal Steven Law at American Crossroads simply aren’t qualified to serve as “electability watchdogs” for GOP candidates.