Mitch McConnell is one of those politicians who evoke powerfully negative personal reactions from his opponents. I mean, even if you knew it was impossible to defeat him for re-election, you’d want someone to run against him, if only to make his life more difficult and his sleep more restless.

So with Ashley Judd’s announcement that she will not run against McConnell next year, we’re in for some anxious weeks before we find out if Judd’s move cleared the field for a potentially more formidable Democrat, or for the incumbent.

Speculation will now focus on Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, who has reportedly been looking at the race but probably would not have challenged the well-known and financially flush Judd in a resource-depleting primary for the chance to wage an uphill fight against McConnell. If she gives the race a pass, someone will eventually come forward, but it would be nice if it’s someone Mitch has to take seriously. He has done nothing to earn an easy ride to re-election.

UPDATE: Some readers may well wonder why I didn’t mention a possible primary challenge as another development that could trouble Mitch’s sleep. Well, it could always happen, but Rand Paul’s recent alignment with McConnell, which will soon be reflected in a formal endorsement, protects the Leader’s back.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.