By Roger Alford, Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is gearing up for a tough re-election fight next year in Kentucky.
He wants to prevent one, too.
McConnell is trying to head off a GOP primary challenge by cozying up to the tea party. He’s also trying to scare off potential Democratic contenders — actress Ashley Judd is one — by providing a glimpse of his no-holds-barred political tactics.
The strategy seems to be working, so far. No serious Republican opponent has emerged. Democrats haven’t fielded a candidate yet, though Judd, a Kentucky native who lives in Tennessee, is considering a run. She would have to re-establish a residence in Kentucky before she could challenge McConnell.
The lack of an opponent hasn’t kept McConnell from sounding an alarm over his potential vulnerability. It’s a tactic rooted in reality and intended to help raise money.
“We know that President Obama’s allies in Washington are doing everything they can to find a candidate to run against me in a primary or a general election,” McConnell said in a statement to The Associated Press. “They’ve made no secrets about their willingness to back anybody right, left, or center to get me out of their way.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Movie and television actress Ashley Judd and songwriter Rodney Crowell will headline a fundraiser in Nashville for the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association.
The Fire It Up! 2012 Election Kickoff Party on Thursday evening at the Cannery Ballroom will support the association’s plan to build networks of hometown Democrats in Tennessee counties.
Judd, who was selected to be a Tennessee delegate at the Democratic National Convention, is also having private seated dinner with donors prior to the event.
Crowell, who won a Grammy in 1989 for the song, “After All This Time,” will perform during the event along with country songwriter Gary Nicholson.
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed against the Upper Cumberland Development District by a former employee who says her personal messages were hacked.
Attorney Gary Blackburn told WTVF-TV (http://bit.ly/Mnw23x ) in Nashville the lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of Ashley Pealer. The filing alleges the agency violated Pealer’s constitutional guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure as well as federal acts protecting personal information.
The lawsuit names interim UCCD director Randy Williams as well as current agency chairman Mike Gannon.
“This is the first of the lawsuits that we will file,” Blackburn said.
Pealer and her mother Kathy were fired by Williams in June.
Attorney Dan Rader, who represents the development district, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.
The agency’s former executive director, Wendy Askins, resigned in March after reports that agency funds were spent on a million-dollar house in Putnam County amid other expenditures. Askins said at the time she made some mistakes, but never personally profited from her job.
In her lawsuit, Pealer claims after she was terminated, she heard from people inside the agency who said some of her private messages were being passed around. Pealer said messages from her private Hotmail and Facebook accounts were printed out.
The lawsuit claims some 300 pages of private text messages were accessed by the defendants and printed out.
In his filing, Blackburn alleges his client’s private communications were targeted because she refused to “remain silent about the illegal behavior of Wendy Askins.”
The lawsuit claims Pealer’s dismissal was handled differently from Askins’ forced resignation in that Askins was allowed to keep her cell phone.
In another development, Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock questioned Gannon’s refusal last week to allow a vote on her motion calling for the rehiring of Ashley and Kathy Pealer.
Blaylock made the motion during a special meeting called to address the firings. Gannon ruled her motion out of order because the agenda only said that the agency board would “discuss” the matter.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Democratic leaders in a Tennessee county are sending actress Ashley Judd as a delegate to the party’s national convention in September.
Judd is one of three delegates selected from Williamson County to serve in at-large positions at the convention. Judd has been outspoken on a variety of humanitarian and social justice issues and has supported local Democratic candidates in the past. The Kentucky native is the daughter of country singer Naomi Judd.
The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/Hc0pDK ) that joining Judd as delegates will be Vilma Cueva, the first Hispanic American delegate out of the county, and Gerard Stranch of Franklin.
The film and TV actress lends some star power to the Williamson County Democrats in a traditionally conservative haven. She helped a Williamson County Democrat run for state senate in 2006 and in 2008 was the voice in an automated call urging local residents to vote.