FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Actress Ashley Judd isn’t ruling out a run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.
Democrats have been promoting Judd, a former Kentuckian now living in Tennessee, as a challenger to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014.
In a statement Friday, Judd, a Democratic political activist, sidestepped the question of whether she would re-establish a residence in Kentucky and run against McConnell.
“I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I’m very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let’s focus on coming together to keep moving America’s families, and especially our kids, forward,” she said.
Judd, a regular at University of Kentucky basketball games and the Kentucky Derby, has starred in such movies as “Kiss the Girls,” ”Double Jeopardy,” ”Where the Heart Is,” and “High Crimes.” She is married to three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and is an annual spectator at the race.
So far, no Democrats have stepped forward to challenge McConnell, a political powerhouse in his home state who already has $6.8 million in the bank for his re-election campaign.
Even so, the Louisville Republican is certain to be targeted again by Democrats, just as he was in 2008 when he won re-election to a fifth term and gained the distinction of being Kentucky’s longest serving senator. McConnell spent some $20 million on his last election, beating Democrat Bruce Lunsford, a wealthy Kentucky businessman, by 6 percentage points.
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.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Judd Matheny is no longer considering a challenge to fellow Republican Beth Harwell for House speaker next year, he said Thursday.
Matheny, a strict gun rights advocate and a supporter of curbing what he sees as the spread of radical Islam in the state, announced last month that he was looking at a bid for the top post in the 99-member House because he felt marginalized by other Republican leaders.
But Matheny said in an interview in his legislative office on that he will instead seek another term in his current position as House speaker pro tempore. Besides speaker, it is the only post elected by the entire lower chamber of the General Assembly.
“It’s all sort of part of feeling your way into the majority and leadership roles,” he said. “I’ve been here 10 years now, and this has always been typically a sideline role. And I think it can be more, and I’m looking forward to it.”
As entertained as Democrats were watching Republican challengers pick off GOP incumbents in the primary election this month, the minority party says they’re concerned a wave of “extreme” right-leaning legislators would bad for legislative business.
Further from Andrea Zelinski: But House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner wouldn’t go as far as to say whether that holds true if Speaker Tempore Judd Matheny chooses to seek the top seat in the House of Representatives.
“Judd’s kind of a mixture of things. He kind of votes for working people a lot, but yet he’s kind of out there on some of the social issues, and some of the gun issues. I don’t think you can stereotype him by any means,” said Turner, D-Old Hickory, in an interview with reporters last week.
..Turner says he calls Matheny a friend, but points out that Democrats have a good working relationship with sitting Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican who aligns herself as a moderate and the governor’s ally.
Turner stopped short of backing either Harwell or Matheny for the gavel.
“I think an endorsement from me for either one of them will probably kill their chances of being speaker, so I’m not going to get involved in their politics,” he laughed.
From a City Paper story on Judd Matheny’s talk of challenging House Speaker Beth Harwell and Gerald McCormick’s thoughts on the matter. Matheny said he has “great admiration and great respect” for Harwell, but listed the leadership’s decision to compromise on a “core constitutional principle” as a primary motivation for a challenge. The current example, he said, is the so-called guns-in-lots bill — Maggart’s lack of enthusiasm for the bill played a large role in the loss of her seat — but added, “If it can be done in one area, it can and will be done in other areas.”
He also noted concern over a lack of “fortitude” to “counter some of the forces that are coming out of Washington” and said the state “shouldn’t even be considering the expansion of the health care law.”
Matheny’s primary grievance is his assertion that he’s been shut out and marginalized by those at the top.
“I am capable of much more,” he said. “I’m capable of being involved in much more in state government, and I don’t believe some of the members of leadership have fully taken advantage of that or fully allowed me to be the most I can be.”
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick called the charge “kind of silly.” He said competition for leadership positions is a positive thing, and he doesn’t begrudge Matheny a desire to run. However, he said Matheny was “hard to get in contact with and didn’t do much” during the past two years.
Matheny said he respects McCormick, but the two simply have a “difference of opinion” on the matter. Presented with the idea that there seemed to be a group of conservatives in the state who are eager to challenge the established leadership every chance they get, Matheny concurred.
“I think that’s a good observation,” he said. “I think you can break up the state into two categories. You have a group of what I call the ‘pathminders,’ who are happy, primarily, with the status quo, they understand that we do have some problems nationally that are severe, but their timeline is unrealistic to address them and deal with them. Then you have group that I call the ‘pathfinders,’ and I consider myself one of those.”
The latter group, he said, knows “we have to alter the trajectory that we’re on or we will not be able to survive.”
News release from Scott Price (Democratic nominee in House District 47) campaign:
In response to the recent announcement that Rep. Judd Matheny is planning to challenge the leadership of respected House Speaker Beth Harwell; it seems extremely presumptuous of Mr. Matheny to be considering such a divisive move when he still has a contested general election in November.
As his opponent in this election, I feel Mr. Matheny has lost sight of the fact that the voters of District 47 have yet to speak to determine who will best represent them. This premature action on his part is just one more example of how out of touch with local voters Mr. Matheny has become. He is obviously pursuing personal political aspirations with no regard to the needs of the people of District 47. Representatives are elected every two years to go to Nashville for a limited time, and then return to their regular jobs.
As an educator for sixteen years in our district, I have no desire to be a career politician and abandon local concerns for a political title. I am willing to represent the hard working people of this district for a short time and then return to my classroom.
Seeking the position of Speaker of the House, along with his opposition to successful Republican candidates in the recent primary, Mr. Matheny has proven to be on the wrong side of even his own Party’s direction in this election. This clearly shows that Judd Matheny is seeking personal political gain instead of devoting his time to the pressing issues of this district. I am actually a little surprised that Mr. Matheny would turn his back on his own Party’s leadership.
From all accounts, Speaker Harwell has been a fair, highly respected, and responsible leader. As the new representative for District 47, I would support Speaker Harwell’s re-election as Speaker of the House if Republicans maintain the majority. I believe voters are tired of political bickering. They want a representative to attend to the true needs of
their district without wasting time and energy on personal political aspirations that clearly are not wanted by Party leaders or by the voters of our district.
Governor Bill Haslam is backing current State House Speaker Beth Harwell, amid hints that a fellow Republican could challenge her control of the lower chamber, reports WPLN. Tullahoma Rep. Judd Matheny says he might try to unseat Harwell. A challenge from Matheny risks pitting more conservative House Republicans against the moderate Harwell, who has worked closely with Haslam.
Asked about the potential for such a challenge, Haslam told reporters he liked Harwell’s work in what he called a difficult role.
“I have a new appreciation for it. When you have 99 elected members, all of whom have a little different idea, it’s difficult to build that consensus, even if your party has a big majority. I think most people would look at the job Beth has done and be very, very impressed.”
Two years ago Harwell beat out Franklin Republican Glen Casada to take the speaker’s gavel, and now Casada says he’s not looking for a rematch. Harwell has preferred to keep the House from spending a lot time on gun bills – a stance that has drawn increasing ire from more gun-friendly lawmakers.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Judd Matheny is mulling a challenge to House Speaker Beth Harwell for the top chamber’s top leadership position, the Tullahoma Republican confirmed in an interview with The Associated Press.
Matheny holds the title of House speaker pro tempore, the only post besides speaker elected by the entire lower chamber of the General Assembly.
The position wields little independent power, and Matheny complained in the interview of being marginalized by other Republican leaders, who he said worked to dilute his key legislative initiatives ranging from loosening gun laws to battling what he perceives as the spread of Islamic law in the United States.
“Other members in our caucus have chosen not to include me in the chain of information and custody of the Legislature,” he said. “I feel like I’ve purposefully been put in a box.”
Matheny, 42, said he holds no personal grudge against Harwell, whom he supported in a hard-fought speaker’s race in 2010. But Matheny said he wants the Legislature to exert more power within state government and to pursue what he called “our true constitutional principles.”
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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Motorcyclists will have to wait another year to renew their efforts to do away with Tennessee’s helmet law.
Republican Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma on Tuesday told the House Transportation Subcommittee that he’s withdrawing his bill seeking to end helmet requirements for adult riders.
Supporters question the safety benefits of helmets and argued that ending the law would boost motorcycle tourism to Tennessee.
But a legislative analysis of the measure projects that changing the law would lead to an increase in traumatic brain injuries, carrying a $1.1 million price tag for TennCare.
The state’s expanded Medicaid system spent $3.1 million to treat motorcycle accidents in the most recent budget year, including $1.8 million on brain injuries.