On Saturday, Vance McAllister won election to the House of Representatives to represent Louisiana's Fifth District. He didn't have the backing of the Tea Party or of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Instead, he had the backing of (and ads from) Willie Robertson, star of A&E's Duck Dynasty, a reality show about a family that earned a fortune selling duck calls. The Duck Political Dynasty has begun.
Robertson himself was considered a possible candidate for the seat earlier this year, or so Twitter rumors had it. On Fox's The Five in August, he denied the rumors, saying that he was "kinda busy" with his television show and robust merchandising empire. ("Loyal fans of the Duck Dynasty family will relish this collection of inspirational messages for each day of the year.")
In the grand tradition of America's wealthy (and Louisiana), Robertson decided instead to play kingmaker. Or, at least, he's getting credit for McAllister's win. In October, McAllister made it to a run-off election, coming in a distant second to the establishment candidate, State Sen. Neil Riser. McAllister was the beneficiary of a massive swing in the vote: from an 18-point deficit in October to a 20-point victory, on Saturday. Ads like the one at right from McAllister certainly didn't hurt.
The conservative site Newsmax spoke with an expert about what the McAllister win means.
"The election of Vance McAllister to Congress in Louisiana's 5th District reflects the appeal of being an outsider in today's poisonous political environment," Mark Kennedy, former Republican congressman from Minnesota and director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, told Newsmax Sunday. "And it demonstrates the power of pop culture to influence political campaigns and the attraction of a businesslike focus on seeking results."
The role of pop culture in most races tends to be exaggerated; Barack Obama would have won in 2008 even without the support of will.i.am, for example. But in a low turn-out race in a conservative area, the blessing of a TV star certainly couldn't have hurt.
Riser seemed like a shoo-in. He had the support of the Tea Party of Louisiana and the conservative group FreedomWorks. He had a business background, like McAllister, and the support of Governor Jindal. But unlike the Alabama run-off earlier this month in which the establishment was able to fend off an insurgent, McAllister leveraged his outsider status to win the seat.
It must be particularly annoying for Jindal. In that The Five interview, Robertson declared that the governor was his pick in 2016, declaring him "my guy." The governor tweeted a response, as The Washington Post noted.
Then Robertson goes and upends his congressional pick. But Jindal likely won't complain. After all, maybe Duck Dynasty can ensure presidential victories, too.