Democratic senator won’t repeat major push for bipartisan seating at Obama’s speech, but he will sit with a Republican

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall won't send a letter to congressional leaders calling for a bipartisan seating arrangement for the president's address to a joint session of Congress next week. But he is still determined to lead by example--he will sit next to a Republican, and he's urging his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do likewise.

"Mark Udall plans to ask a Republican to sit with him at the President's speech, just as he did at the State of the Union address," Udall spokesman Tara Trujillo told The Ticket. "Mark hopes other members of Congress will do the same."

Udall was the driving force behind a symbolic effort in January that convinced several lawmakers to sit with a member of the opposite party at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. He sent a letter to House and Senate leaders with nearly 60 co-signers after Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson, urging them to break tradition for a night and sit with a member of the other party.

Thursday's speech will be the first test of whether the bipartisan seating arrangement set a precedent.

Udall didn't say which Republican he would sit with, but we do know he won't be anywhere near Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, who unceremoniously announced Thursday that he would intentionally skip Obama's jobs speech.

"Instead of being a prop of another one of the President's speeches, next Thursday I will fly home to IL to talk to real job creators," Walsh wrote in a post on Twitter.

Thursday's event, where Obama will outline a much-anticipated plan to reduce the unemployment rate, got off to a rocky start this week when House Speaker John Boehner rejected the president's original request date. The president later announced he would speak the day after instead.