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Actress Ashley Judd announced Wednesday she won't run for U.S. Senate in  Kentucky against Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, saying she had given serious  thought to a campaign but decided her responsibilities and energy need to be  focused on her family.

The former Kentucky resident tweeted her decision.

"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," Judd wrote.

"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. Thank you!"

Her publicist Cara Tripicchio confirmed Judd's decision.


The 44-year-old Judd had hinted last week that she was nearing a decision  about the race.

Now living in suburban Nashville, Tenn., Judd has said little publicly about  her intentions. However, she has been meeting with several Democratic leaders,  including Gov. Steve Beshear, to discuss a possible run.

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.

The star of such films as "Double Jeopardy" and "Kiss the Girls" is known for  her liberal political views and she would have been running in a largely  conservative state where Republicans hold both Senate seats and five of the six  seats in the U.S. House.

Former State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, a Judd supporter, said she would have  been a strong candidate.

"As a Kentuckian and someone who was really enthusiastic about her as a  candidate, this wasn't the news I was hoping for," Miller said. "But as her  friend, from the first time we talked about the race last summer, I was very  candid about the grueling nature of politics. It's become a very unpleasant  business and running against Mitch McConnell would be an extraordinarily  difficult and grueling experience."

McConnell, who spent some $20 million on his last election and who has  already raised $10 million for the next one, had already been taunting would-be  Democratic challengers in a comical online video intended to raise second  thoughts about taking on a politician known as brawler. The video plays on the  fact that Judd lives in Tennessee.

Republican-leaning group American Crossroads in its own online video also  plays on the Tennessee angle and ties her closely to President Barack Obama, who  is unpopular in Kentucky.

University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck said Judd  certainly wasn't frightened out of the race.

"She doesn't strike me as a shrinking violet," Rhodebeck said. "I think the  real issue would be how much disruption she wanted in her life. This was the  kind of thing that she would have to throw herself into 100 percent in order to  make it worthwhile."

Judd and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti separated early  this year after marrying in his native Scotland in 2001.

Judd's decision not to enter the race leaves the Democratic Party in search  of a candidate. 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. Grimes declined comment  Wednesday evening through her spokeswoman, Lynn Sowards Zellen.

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