Ashley Judd Ratchets Up Southern Charm, Gets Mixed Reviews

“This is not a movie role, this is a job application,” says one Kentucky Democratic operative of Judd’s potential Senate run.

Actress Ashley Judd, a potential Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Kentucky, speaks at a George Washington University forum called, Progress and Perspectives: Women’s Reproductive Health in Washington, D.C., Friday, March 1, 2013. Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/__username__

Actress Ashley Judd held her bluegrass culture banner high Friday afternoon in a speech at George Washington University on women’s reproductive health, further fueling speculation that she is mulling a U.S. Senate run against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.

But her efforts to gussy up up her attachment to the south during the speech and Q&A session — complete with words like “feller,” “mawmaw,” and “y’all” — were met with some skepticism by political observers on Twitter, and in her home state.

“She needs to come home and have the conversation with Kentuckians about whether or not they want her to run,” said Democratic operative Dale Emmons.

He added that her accent and use of “y’all” might be authentic, but she should use that voice in her home state before considering a run.

“The road to victory is not through Hollywood, Washington DC and New York,” Emmons said. “It’s through Paducah and Lexington and Louisville. We’re Southerners and we expect you to come talk to us.”

If she does run in 2014, Emmons said, the focus should be on bringing down McConnell.

“This is not a movie role, this is a job application,” Emmons said. “The guy she might be running against needs to be held accountable. She must make senator McConnell the issue, not herself. That’s my problem with her.”

Some of Judd’s past statements have been criticized as far left of Kentucky’s conservative leanings.

She’s said it is “unconscionable to breed” when there are hungry children in the world and has criticized western marriage traditions as patriarchal.

At George Washington University, Judd spoke about that “feller called Desmond Tutu.”


Judd spoke about “tombstones of little babies” who were her Kentucky “kin.”


A few people familiar with Kentucky weighed in:

She hasn't uttered the word "Mamaw" since her "Mama" moved them out of the hills. Go home, Ashley. Kentucky hates you. @mboyle1 @AshleyJudd

— time4_honesty (@Andrea)

Things I have in common with Ashley Judd: (1) My grandmother is from Kentucky, a state which I (2) will not be representing in the Senate.

— notstevenwhite (@Steven White)

But at least it wasn’t the first time she used the word “feller.” Last April, she tweeted this:

@JamieCarr1990 That is Lucky, an HIV/AIDS oprhan I met in Soweta. Little feller nearly killed me with love. Unforgettable.

— AshleyJudd (@ashley judd)

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Reporting politics for BuzzFeed.
Contact CJ Lotz at cj.lotz+done@buzzfeed.com
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