02/21/2013 07:33 pm ET

Ashley Judd Praised By Kentucky Governor As 'Serious Candidate'

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear waded into the growing speculation over Ashley Judd's potential Senate candidacy on Thursday, praising the actress as a "very serious candidate."

During a session with reporters at the state capitol, the Democratic governor was asked if he had talked to Judd about her potential challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2014.

"I talked to Ashley Judd during the Kentucky Ball that was part of the inaugural ceremonies in January," he said. "She's been trying to arrange and will be arranging some more conversations here in the next month or so."

Beshear continued, "There are a number of people that are still talking about running for the U.S. Senate, and I think she would be a very serious candidate, and there may be others that would be also. I'm going to encourage as many as possible to take a look at it so we can come up with the best candidate."

The governor's comments came days after Judd met with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officials in Washington, D.C., marking the actress' most formal step yet towards a potential run.

The Hill also reports that Judd met with Democratic donors in Kentucky last week. During that dinner, Judd reportedly told the donors that she would make a decision on running by May 6 -- the day of the Kentucky Derby.

Despite her unwillingness to commit to the race just yet, Judd has already been targeted by conservative groups wary of the threat she could pose to McConnell. Earlier this month, the Karl Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads launched a web ad attacking Judd as a "Hollywood liberal." McConnell's camp also launched an anti-Judd web spot of its own, knocking Judd for being "Obama's Kentucky candidate."



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