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Idaho campaigns feature stars: Christie for Otter; ‘Duck Dynasty’ for Denney

Fri., Dec. 6, 2013, midnight

Sure, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is bringing in GOP political star Chris Christie for a fundraiser tonight at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, but former House Speaker Lawerence Denney has stars of his own headed to Idaho for a fundraiser for his campaign for secretary of state.

The main characters from the popular “Duck Dynasty” reality show on A&E will talk family values in a stadium show in March and visit with Denney supporters at a VIP reception.

“They’re good family-values people and we’re happy to have them coming,” Denney said.

Pulling in out-of-state star power to boost a campaign isn’t uncommon, especially for a top office like governor, notes Boise State University emeritus professor Jim Weatherby. He pointed to presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s campaigning with movie star Chuck Norris, and declaring that he was “Chuck Norris approved.”

New Jersey Gov. Christie “certainly has star power,” Weatherby said. “He’s an excellent speaker and I suspect will draw a big crowd.”

As for Denney’s race, Weatherby said, “It’s a little hard sometimes to get a lot of excitement for some of the elected positions, like secretary of state.”

Denney said he put in an offer to get the famously bearded TV stars to come and was surprised when they accepted. He’ll pay them a flat fee, and they’ll present “Happy, Happy, Happy: An Evening with A&E’s Duck Dynasty” at the Idaho Center in Nampa on March 29.

Denney said that other than the $500-a-head VIP reception, “Basically this is not a fundraising event – it’s an event for the general public. We hope that we cover expenses and then we hope that we make a little more. … We’ve got four months to sell the tickets.”

Otter’s event will feature recently re-elected Christie, a rising star among Republicans who’s widely expected to run for president in 2016. “Chris and I had set this up some time ago,” Otter said. “We have been great friends since he was elected.”

Otter called Christie “a great leader for the future in the Republican Party” and said, “I think he represents what we need to see in Washington, D.C., and that’s reaching across the aisle and solving the problems.”

Denney said that after his offer to the “Duck Dynasty” stars was accepted, “We went out and visited with them just before Thanksgiving. They are just as redneck as what they show on TV – just every bit.”

He said there were just two surprises: The Robertson family’s place in Louisiana, where they live and produce their Duck Commander duck decoys, is now gated to keep out all the tourists. And the family’s oldest son, Alan – who had been the only non-bearded male adult among the group – was sporting a full beard.

“It’s a good half-inch long,” Denney said.

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