FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is gearing up for a tough re-election fight next year in Kentucky.
He's also trying to prevent one.
McConnell is trying to head off a GOP primary challenge by cozying up to the tea party. And he's trying to scare off potential Democratic contenders - actress Ashley Judd is one - by providing a glimpse of his no-holds-barred political tactics.
The strategy seems to be working, so far.
No serious Republican opponent has emerged, and Democrats haven't yet fielded a candidate.
Judd is a Kentucky native who lives in Tennessee. She would have to re-establish a residence in Kentucky before she could challenge McConnell.
Defeating McConnell would be the Democrats' biggest prize of the 2014 election.