- (Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking)
After endorsing an underdog candidate in the Louisiana House of Representatives special election last November, "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson will be attending Tuesday's State of the Union Address as the freshman congressman's guest.
Robertson, who is the CEO of the Duck Commander business in West Monroe, La., attended several fundraisers for the then-candidate and filmed a 20-second promotional video for Vance McAllister (R-La.) last year, at a time when the representative was in the midst of overcoming electoral and financial hurdles to qualify for the runoff.
"I am proud to have my close friend, constituent and small business owner, Willie Robertson, attend tonight's State of the Union Address as my special guest," McAllister said in a statement. "Willie is thankful for this opportunity and honored to attend. I look forward to the two of us representing the Fifth District in Washington, D.C. this evening and bringing some diversity to our nation's capitol."
McAllister, a businessman who owns a pipeline construction company and several fast-food franchises, decided to toss his hat into the ring in a last-minute decision. To qualify for the runoff, he beat out 12 other candidates and ultimately finished with 18 percent of the vote, compared with his opponent and party-supported Neil Riser's 32 percent.
With only about 19 percent of the state showing up to the polls for the runoff, McAllister trounced Riser by more than 17,500 votes, garnering roughly 60 percent of the votes cast, reported NOLA.
Despite pundits who suggested that the all-Republican runoff would encourage far right candidates, the new representative surprised the field during the campaign by criticizing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for not accepting an optional Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."
McAllister said his disagreement stemmed from the fact that his district was one of the "poorest in the nation with nearly 25 percent of its more than 750,000 people living below the poverty line in 2010 and 21 percent without health insurance."
His opponent used McAllister's criticism to unsuccessfully dissuade voters from supporting the candidate, declaring that "a vote for Vance McAllister is a vote for Obamacare."
For his part, the owner of several Subway stores, said that he opted to avoid negativity in his campaign and claimed that he "never once went to the dirty side of politics."
Through the final week of the campaign, the majority of McAllister's campaign was self-funded; of his $245,000 in total funds, he only raised $10,000 outside of his own contributions, while Riser raised more than $500,000 during the primary.