By Judy Kurtz
Ashley Judd says voters shouldn’t count her out of the political arena just yet.
“I might run some day,” she tells ITK, “I don’t know.”
“That particular moment in time was unique. I was prepared to run, I was very excited,” says Judd, adding with a laugh: “I had bizarre thoughts in the morning like 'It’s a great day to raise $20 million' — not that I think that’s a good thing in American politics, because we need massive campaign finance reform! But it was all systems go.”
But in March of 2013, the Democrat took herself out of the running, writing on Twitter, “After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family.”
That decision didn’t come easily.
“It was a real leap of faith on my part because I am not ego-free,” Judd says. “I had my own self-centered fear: people might think that I was dabbling or that I was flaky.”
The 46-year-old performer “couldn’t stop crying” as she consulted her advisers about what to do: “I was like, ‘What are you hearing me say?’ And they were very ego-less because they had a vested interest in my going forward. They said, ‘I’m hearing you say at this moment in your life, it’s too much, too soon.”
The Emmy Award nominee and 2012 Democratic National Convention delegate says she was “shocked and disappointed” that Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes failed to unseat McConnell last year.
“Unfortunately, the commonwealth, in my opinion, didn’t make a change that’s going to help Congress emerge from gridlock, get things done, and enter into an era of transformation in American politics,” aid Judd, who endorsed Grimes.
When asked if she has any regrets about deciding against a political run, she replied quickly, “Of course I do.”
“I do believe I’m right where God wants me to be at this time.”
The Hill caught up with Judd on Tuesday at a discussion at the Meridian International Center in Washington about the upcoming documentary series “A Path Appears.”
The three-part series, which premieres Jan. 26 on PBS stations, is based on the book of the same name by journalist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. It follows the Pulitzer Prize-winning pair as they join celebrity activists such as Judd to investigate the origins of gender inequality.
Judd and Kristof get to know a sexual abuse survivor who was sold into child prostitution by her mother in Nashville, Tenn. The woman’s story brings attention to the Magdalene residential program, which helps abuse and trafficking victims turn their lives around and get off the streets.
“We really wanted to turn the lens and say what you think of as ‘over there’ is really right here in our own backyard,” explains Maro Chermayeff, the series’ executive producer.
“We wanted to peel back the layers and look at the roots of vulnerability, where do they fall. And more importantly, how can we change them?” says the filmmaker.
Judd, it seems, is trying to find her own path.
While discussing her decision not to challenge McConnell, the entertainer — wearing a maroon silk dress and fishnet stockings as her beloved dog, Shug, sits nearby — mentions a retreat she’ll be going on in a couple of weeks that’s focused on “the path of devotion.”
“My hope is that whatever I do, it’s an act of worship. And so whether it’s continuing to be a humanitarian who can push a lot of buttons outside the political system, who can also operate somewhat within it, I don’t know ultimately what that’s going to look like. But I can still suit up, and show up, and fight.”