Ashley Judd will not be running to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the actress announced Wednesday on Twitter.
In a series of posts on the social media website, Judd wrote: "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate.
"I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work... as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth."
Political reporters and commentators seized on rumors that sprouted in November suggesting Judd - a Kentucky delegate at September's Democratic National Convention - was mulling a bid against McConnell, the longest-serving senator in the traditionally conservative state's history. Those rumors grew legs last month after Politico reported that she had met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington.
McConnell spokesman Jesse Benton threw into the gossip mill his camp's two-cents last fall, saying the minority leader is open to the challenge, and apparently a fan of Judd's movies, which include "Kiss the Girls," "Where the Heart Is" and "Dolphin Tale." Other Republicans took a more proactive approach: the Karl Rove-backed PAC American Crossroads last month invested serious money in an online ad ridiculing Judd for being a self-identified liberal "radical" and for calling Tennessee "home," despite that her potential Senate bid would be in Kentucky.
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., rallied for her cause in its most nascent phase, citing her high-profile name recognition and presumed fundraising prowess. Many Democrats, though, had their concerns, predicting her opposition to mountaintop removal mining will set her apart from most other Kentucky politicians who are allied with the Blue Grass State's mining industry.
A source "close to Judd" reportedly told the Washington Post that Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Grimes' potential interest in running made Judd's decision easier. The actress wrote on Twitter that she will post a full statement on her website, ashleyjudd.com.