POLITICS
03/11/2013 05:16 pm ET Updated Mar 12, 2013

Ashley Judd Needs To Be Kentucky Resident Sooner Rather Than Later

If Ashley Judd follows through on her privately expressed intention to run for the U.S. Senate, she will have to move quickly to establish residency in Kentucky.

The problem is not the U.S. Constitution, which says only that a candidate must be an "inhabitant" of the state on Election Day in order to be duly elected. Judd, who was educated in Kentucky but who has lived in Tennessee in recent years, could presumably handle that, as she prepares behind the scenes for a 2014 race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The higher hurdle is Kentucky law. Under state statute, the Democratic actress's name cannot legally appear on the primary election ballots unless, at the time of filing her candidacy papers, she is a "resident" of the state. This is according to the Kentucky Secretary of State's office. State law is vague on what constitutes residency, and courts have interpreted in various ways -- and sometimes include length of time in the state as one factor.

So if Judd is serious -- and she is -- she had best establish residence in Kentucky sooner, rather than later, to avoid a challenge to the placing of her name on the primary ballot in May 2014.

The legal timetable may have something to do with why Judd has told others that she is looking to announce her plans -- and perhaps settle in Kentucky -- this coming May, a year ahead of the primary.

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