UPDATE, 3:44 PM: Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) caught up with Willie Robertson before tonight’s State of the Union Address and tweeted the photo below.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) January 28, 2014
PREVIOUS, 8:14 AM: Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson is expected to join Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister at tonight’s State of the Union Address. Robertson is CEO of the Robertson family’s Duck Commander company — and the State of the Union Address has become one of a handful of Washington’s Celebrity Petting Zoos, though it trails the White House Correspondents Dinner by many, many laps. Willie also is the son of family patriarch Phil Robertson, who landed in hot water after giving an interview to GQ in which he waxed headline-hoggingly about gays and blacks. A&E, you’ll recall, suspended him from the show for an indefinite period but unsuspended him pretty quickly in the wake of wrist-slap blow-back.
McAllister’s returning a favor the Robertson family did for him last November, when Republicans credited Duck Dynasty with a political upset in Louisiana that wound the political newbie in office, thumping both the Tea Party and the GOP establishment. Now it’s the Robertson family that needs help. Returning to A&E’s lineup after Phil’s fiery GQ interview, Duck Dynasty posted its first year-to-year declines, and, last week, Episode 2 of Season 5 continued the downward trend: The adventures of the Robertson clan drew 6.7 million total viewers, down an eye-opening 21% from the season opener. The 3.6 rating in the adults 25-54 demo was down a less-rough 14% from last week.
Last November, when the Robertsons were riding high, Lousiana state Sen. Neil Riser was considered something of a certainty in the election to determine who would replace former Rep. Rodney Alexander; Alexander resigned from Congress in September to join the administration of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Riser was backed by the Tea Party, the GOP establishment, and the outgoing Alexander. In the other corner: GOP businessman McAllister, who was quoted saying the state should expand Medicaid under Obamacare because the rural district he’d represent is one of the nation’s poorest. Riser responded with ads declaring a vote for McAllister to be “a vote for Obamacare,” which, in theory, should have polished McAllister off in the state described by the Wall Street Journal as “deep red.” Instead, McAllister won with 60% of the vote. Caddo Parish GOP chair Harold Coates sniffed that McAllister was pals with the Duck Dynasty guys, who live in McAllister’s 5th District and endorsed him in ads and in personal appearances. This plays into the whole It’s Hollywood’s Fault storyline, or, as Coates put it: “Entertainers should stay out of elections. I feel like Duck Dynasty absolutely swayed the election, and it’s a disappointment.” This tickled some of The Reporters Who Cover Politics, who said Washington GOP operatives had tried in vain to get a Duck Dynasty family member to run for the seat.
Here’s Willie Robertson in a campaign ad for McAllister: