While First Lady Michelle Obama’s State of the Union guests have received the lion’s share of attention ahead of Tuesday’s speech, a colorful cast of characters will be in attendance for President Obama’s annual address to Congress.
Two stars of the Duck Dynasty cast flocked to the nation’s capital for the speech. Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister announced on Tuesday that he’s bringing Willie Robertson, whom he called a “friend, constituent and small business owner.” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Twitter Tuesday evening that he had given a guest ticket to Robertson’s wife, Korie.
The hit A&E reality show came under fire after Willie Robertson’s father, Phil, made insensitive remarks about gay men in a December article in GQ. The patriarch was briefly suspended but was given back his gig.
Joining them is Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who was invited by Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, according to the Dallas Morning News. Hannity, a conservative stalwart, has expressed interest in running for political office in the Lone Star State.
House Speaker John Boehner has invited “Ohio employers struggling under Obamacare.” That includes Joe Brown, president and CEO of Hartzell Propeller in Piqua, Wayne Deschambeau, president of Wayne HealthCare in Greenville, Laura Doerger-Roberts, president of Vinylmax Windows in Hamilton, and David Lippert, president of Hamilton Caster & Manufacturing Company.
“These men and women have one important thing in common: the president’s health care law is making it harder for them to hire,” Boehner said in a statement. “They represent the countless number of employers across the country who are struggling right now, and having run a small business, I know where they are coming from. Their presence at the State of the Union is one way to help ensure their stories are told.”
The purported target of the “Bridgegate” traffic jam, Fort Lee, N.J. Mayor Mark Sokolich, will attend the speech with New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell. Earlier this month, emails revealed Christie’s aides were involved in a plan to close traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge,possibly for political payback against Sokolich.
Here are some other notable guests who have been invited to attend:
Jason Collins – The NBA vet, who announced he is gay in a Sports Illustrated story last spring, will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama. The 35-year-old, who last played with the Washington Wizards, told ESPN: “It’s a big deal that the administration has extended its hand to not only me, but my family, and also sports fans and also the gay community.”
Joey Hudy – The 16-year-old from Arizona, who impressed Obama with his marshmallow cannon at a science fair at the White House in February 2012, will be seated with the first lady’s section. “I am honored to announce that I will be sitting in Mrs. Obama’s box during the State of the Union,” the teen wrote on his blog.
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman – The two survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon attack will also be guests of President Obama’s. An iconic photo from the double bombings showed Arredondo, 53, and Bauman, 27. Arredondo is seen helping Bauman, who lost both legs in the explosion. Bauman later helped identify the bombers. According to the White House, the two men have become “close friends.”
Chad Henderson – The former Obama volunteer became a thorn for the White House after telling several media outlets he signed up for the Affordable Care Act. It turns out he didn’t, and Henderson has since come out against the president’s signature policy. He will be a guest of Texas Rep. Steve Stockman’s. “Chad Henderson is Obamacare personified. He pushed ObamaCare on other people but refused to buy it himself because he would pay more,” Stockman said in a statement. Last year, the lawmaker brought conservative rock star and gun-rights advocate Ted Nugent to Obama’s State of the Union.
Simone Sonnier-Jang – The Los Angeles fast food worker, who helped spark a national debate on inequality, will accompany Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez. Obama is expected to call again for raising the minimum age, which would undoubtedly affect the McDonald’s employee.
Kenneth Bae’s family – Myunghee Bae and Terri Chung, the mother and sister of the American who is currently behind bars in North Korea, will be the guests of Democratic Reps. Rick Larsen of Washington and Charles Rangel of New York. Bae, who was in North Korea as a tourist in 2012, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for alleged anti-government crimes. The punishment came amid high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea following Pyongyang’s third nuclear test. The White House has repeatedly urged North Korea to release Bae, a Christian missionary who was living in China and leading tours to North Korea.