Ashley Judd Won't Run as McConnell's Campaign Beast Is Unveiled

The result from months of speculation? Google results.

Crushing every Kentucky political reporter’s 2014 dreams Ashley Judd announced she will not seek Mitch McConnell‘s incumbent seat. The actress announced her news via her Twitter:

Judd later posted a full entry on her personal site thanking her supporters.

Which means weeks and weeks of entertainment correspondents and political reporters dreams of a Judd v. McConnell race are up in smoke. Politico profiles a potential reason why the Mississippi-based actress may have dropped out: Mitch McConnell is out for blood. Comes the excerpt from this morning’s Playbook:

“He’s already on the air with nearly $200,000 in TV and radio ads, is assembling streams of data to target voters with tailor-made messages, and has quietly moved to lock down support from virtually every state GOP legislator. He says he’ll use ‘every penny’ of a war chest certain to exceed the $21 million he spent in 2008.”

Even if the 71-year old, four-time incumbent is set on keeping his seat there are still those that won’t let the potential for bon mots go. ABC News’ The Note goes with “Kentucky Dirby” in the headline while profiling the only other possible high-profile candidate: Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The secretary was reportedly “wooed” by former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for office. And would she? With Clinton-backing and every Kentucky Democrat desperate for a seat after 28 years? Of course they would.

Except now “Kentucky Derby” is probably the most creative we’ll ever get when trying to drum up interest. So far it looks like the closest Judd will get to being on Capitol Hill will be in her Olympus Has Fallen cameo.

Sen. Tim Johnson Officially Not Seeking Re-Election

South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson won’t be seeking re-election this year, which has thrilled every politico junkie in the midwest. NBC News confirmed the news last night. Johnson, a three term senator, will give remarks later today from the University of North Dakota.

The AP reports that Johnson won’t confirm the announcement until today at his speaking engagement. He’ll serve out the remainder of his term until the 2014 Rumble for Capitol Hill begins. In a truly weird coincidence the “battle” for the South Dakota seat seems to be incredibly vast. Johnson’s departure means a shake-up for the Senate Banking Committee, which he has chaired since 2011. Also in a completely unrelated bit of news, New Jersey pollsters announced today that voters don’t care about Chris Christie’s weight. Because this is the most anyone outside of Beltway wonks has thought about South Dakota since the Birding Festival got confirmed dates in May.

The Day After Mid-Terms: Dems Retain Senate, GOP Moves Into House

Now that the countdown for Election 2012 (733 days and counting) is kicked off the a GOP takeover of the House and the Democrats keeping the Senate; today is ripe for figuring out what happened the last few months.

ABC News’ The Note sees this as coming full circle since 2008:

In the course of one night, critical gains Democrats had made in Congress over the course of two years were erased as the party in control of the White House suffered a painful loss of nearly 60 seats. As of this morning there were still 15 seats that have not been called — all of them currently held by Democrats. The GOP is likely to pick up some of those, bringing the total number of seats gained by Republicans even higher.

Not to mention this election cycle proved the strength of the “angry vote” over the fabled “youth vote,” which was shockingly absent compared to 2008. CBS News reports that the kids weren’t all right at the polling place and voting was down 18 percent  among 18-to-29-year olds. This year? The “youth vote” comprised nine percent of total voting percentage.

The New York Times rings in with the basic question: was hoping for change too ambitious from a country that can’t wait?

The most pressing question as Mr. Obama picks through the results on Wednesday morning will be what lessons he takes from the electoral reversals. Was this the natural and unavoidable backlash in a time of historic economic distress, or was it a repudiation of a big-spending activist government? Was it primarily a failure of communications as the White House has suggested lately, or was it a fundamental disconnect with the values and priorities of the American public?

For a full list of the Senatorial, Gubernatorial and House races, ABC News has the voting results as they come in.

Haus of Gaga Fails To Beat Senate

In a tale as old as time, beauty can’t beat the beast with 100 backs–especially when it comes to legislation.

That’s exactly what the Internet learned upon today’s 56-43 vote to not pass $726 billion in defense spending, according to the AP, which also included language to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or DADT as the official Twitter hashtag.

Lady Gaga gained a bit more steam last week after tweeting a Senate vote should be scheduled against “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” which picked up further press when Harry Reid re-tweeted her to explain there was an upcoming vote according to Politico; Gaga was referencing her recent appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards where her dates were all gay servicemen and women.

Since Gaga has adopted DADT as her rallying point–quite literally yesterday in Maine, as MTV reports. Her rallying speech (video above) called for an end to the practice. But today’s block doesn’t bode well for the repeal anytime soon, as the Times claims:

Congress has approved the annual Pentagon authorization bill for 48 consecutive years, and it seems likely that the measure will be brought up again after the election in the relatively calmer — if somewhat unpredictable — atmosphere of a lame-duck session.  The House has already approved legislation allowing the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the provision will likely be easier to pass in the Senate after Dec. 1 when a Pentagon study on the effects of ending the policy is due.

Still, the House has already passed legislation to repeal the act and December 1st is another day. Perhaps the Senate hasn’t heard the last from the Haus or Gaga.

Robert Byrd, 1917-2010

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Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest-serving member of Congress in US history, died earlier this morning at a Virginia hospital. He was 92.

Politico leads off with Byrd’s rise through West Virginia and his time in the Ku Klux Klan before endorsing President Obama. They follow up with a collection of remembrances from the Senate, including Mitch McConnell:

“Sen. Byrd combined a devotion to the U.S. Constitution with a deep learning of history to defend the interests of his state and the traditions of the Senate. We will remember him for his fighter’s spirit, his abiding faith, and for the many times he recalled the Senate to its purposes.”

There are currently no plans for Byrd’s funeral, but a successor will be chosen shortly.

The New York Times leads off with the health care debate and Senator Byrd’s condition:

Mr. Byrd’s death comes as Senate Democrats are working to pass the final version of the financial overhaul bill and win other procedural battles in the week before the Independence Day recess. In the polarized atmosphere of Washington, President Obama’s agenda seemed to hinge on Mr. Byrd’s health. Earlier this year, in the final days of the health care debate, the ailing senator was pushed onto the Senate floor in his plaid wheelchair so he could cast his votes.

The Charleston Gazette brings up Senator Byrd’s infamous bid to move the CIA offices and reaction to being named Porker Of The Year in 2002 by Citizens Against Government Waste (“Such criticism rolled off me like water from a duck’s back,” Byrd wrote in his autobiography.)

At The Takeaway, Senator Byrd’s defiant and poetic attitude is clearly summed up in an exchange outside the Senate:

Once during the height of the Iraq War, Byrd slowly passed through a group of reporters on his way to the Senate floor. I remember him stopping, turning toward us and wagging his finger. “The Fourth Estate. The Fourth Estate! Defenders of liberty!” he shouted as he shot his index finger into the air. “Defend it,” he said, as he looked at each of us. “Defend it.”