FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Actress Ashley Judd had purchased a house in the northeastern Kentucky city of Ashland when she was considering running for U.S. Senate.
Boyd County Property Valuation Administrator Chuck Adkins said Monday that Judd paid $120,000 for the house that once belonged to her father, Michael Charles Ciminella. The deal was finalized in March, about a week before Judd announced her decision not to run against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
"It was kind of her old home place," Adkins said of the modest home on Morningside Drive. "I think it was for sentimental reasons."
To run for Senate, Judd, a resident of Tennessee, would have had to establish a residence in Kentucky. She lived in Ashland for a while as a teenager and attended Paul G. Blazer High School. Her grandmother, Polly Judd, still lives in Ashland, where she remains active in local politics and is a former city commissioner.
The 44-year-old actress who has starred in such films as "Double Jeopardy" and "Kiss the Girls" said she had given serious thought to a campaign but decided her responsibilities and energy need to be focused on her family. She had met with several Democratic leaders, including Gov. Steve Beshear, to discuss a possible run before she opted out.
Judd's decision not to enter the race leaves the Democratic Party in search of a challenger. Many of Kentucky's top Democrats, including Beshear, have said they won't run. However, a rising star within the party, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, hasn't ruled the race out.
Defeating McConnell would be the Democrats' biggest prize of the 2014 election. His seat is one of 14 that Republicans are defending while Democrats try to hold onto 21, hoping to retain or add to their 55-45 edge. Despite her name recognition, Judd, a liberal Democrat, was no shoo-in in a largely conservative state where Republicans now hold both U.S. Senate seats and five of the six seats in the U.S. House.
McConnell's campaign had already been taunting Judd in a comical online video that was clearly intended to raise second thoughts about running. The video played up the fact that she lives in the Nashville suburbs, not Kentucky.
Judd supporter Jonathan Miller, a former two-term state treasurer, said he sees the home purchase as an indication the actress wants to be involved in Kentucky politics.
Miller didn't discredit speculation that Judd could be looking ahead to 2016 when Kentucky's other Senate seat, held by Republican Rand Paul, is up for election.
"That could be an open seat, if Rand runs for president," Miller said. "And those open Senate seats come along very seldom."