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Ashley Judd tells Twitter followers she will not run for Kentucky's U.S. Senate seat

Actress Ashley Judd will not challenge U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's seat in 2016, she announced late Wednesday.

"Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate," she said in a series of messages on Twitter.com. "I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader.

"While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work as 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!"

Judd's potential campaign created both excitement and trepidation among Kentucky and national Democrats, who split into two groups on her electability. Her supporters said her huge national profile and fundraising ability would ensure McConnell's demise, but others worried that her outspoken liberal views, especially on issues like her opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining, would doom her and other Democrats further down the ticket.

In recent weeks, news reports have mentioned the possibility of Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes running against McConnell. Those reports have said Grimes has a relatively blank political slate but deep political ties — her father, Jerry Lundergan, is a former state Democratic Party chairman and is close friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

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