So far, the speculation on who’ll be the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election bid has practically been a casting call.
First, Ashley Judd got a mention from U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth. Now, George Clooney and Diane Sawyer have had their names dropped Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson during an interview with WHAS 11, though he later told WFPL that he was just joking.
Still, the focus of the 2014 Kentucky senate race has had an atypically star-studded gleam so far.
Celebrities do get elected to public office: comedian Al Franken is in the Senate, former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne served in the U.S. House, pro wrestler Jesse Ventura was governor of Minnesota. Before he was a senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning was a big league pitcher. Ronald Reagan, of course, was an actor before he was president.
If this is the direction the 2014 senatorial campaign is heading, we figured we’d nominate a few other possible celebrity candidates for the Democratic nomination.
The Deliverance star has plenty of Kentucky ties to tout — he was born and raised in Louisville (St. Matthews, specifically) and he attended Transylvania University. What gives a guy blue collar appeal more than playing Dan’s dad on Roseanne? That all said, Beatty doesn’t appear to live in Kentucky, nor has he been particularly involved in politics. No, he’s not related to Warren. And, yes, Warren would make a great candidate. (See Bullworth.)
Winning a men’s basketball national title with a bunch of freshmen? Done. Doing it again while simultaneously serving in the U.S. Senate? Now that’s a challenge. Calipari isn’t a Kentucky native, but the brazen basketball coach is arguably the state’s most beloved person after the Kentucky Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Given the fact that McConnell is a big booster of the University of Louisville, that race would certainly give the Blue-Red divide a new meaning.
We know, she’s only 22 — and you have to be 30 to be a senator. But what’s the U.S. Constitution when compared to her charismatic performance in The Hunger Games? We know next to nothing about her politics, which makes her the perfect candidate. And with President Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of the Senate, there’s always a chance we could change that whole constitutional requirement thing.
Who? Please don’t act like you didn’t see her groundbreaking performance in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. OK, she’s not exactly a movie star now, which means she has plenty of time for a senate campaign. She’s from Louisville, and perhaps most famous for showing up to Tim Burton’s office dressed as Catwoman to audition for Batman Returns. She did not get the role.
OK, maybe he has better things to do. But the Owensboro native has the rural credentials, the hipster good looks and the reputation for speaking his mind. Depp has done more than most to keep alive the memory of fellow Kentuckian Hunter S. Thompson, who would’ve have been the absolute greatest candidate to run for Kentucky office, ever.
The Dr. Dunkenstein fits all the legitimate criteria. Unlike these other possibilities, he actually lives in Kentucky and is involved in a number philanthropic causes around Louisville. He’s immensely popular — at least in Louisville — and has the basketball charisma that’s important to this state. We don’t know his politics, which helps him avoid certain attacks.
In all seriousness, as Kentucky Public Radio’s Kenny Colston has reported, some prominent state Democrats have stiff-armed the rumored Judd candidacy. The fact that Yarmuth and Abramson are touting celebrities who have little, if any, connection to the commonwealth shows either the party is trying to distract from the real pool of candidates or is in a desperate search for a McConnell challenger.