Here’s who 2020 hopefuls are bringing as their guests to the State of the Union
For presidential hopefuls serving in Congress, Tuesday’s State of the Union address provides an opportunity to make a statement.
But it’s not about where they’re sitting, or, in some cases, what they’re saying in their response to President Trump. These White House aspirations have instead chosen to express something with their choice of guest for Tuesday’s annual speech.
Members of the House and Senate are allowed to invite a guest to sit above the House chamber in the gallery during the address. And, even though there’s still a full year until the first presidential primary, Democrats interested in a White House campaign appear to be using their guest pick to reenforce their narratives ahead of the campaign.
Here’s who several 2020 White House hopefuls in Congress are bringing as their guests:
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey: Edward Douglas, who was just released from a lifetime sentence for a low-level drug crime as a result of the newly enacted First Step Act. Booker has been a vocal advocate for changes to the criminal justice system, and he was an original cosponsor of the bill.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann, who is transgender. Gillibrand, per her office, is working on new legislation intended to “protect transgender service members” following Trump’s ban.
Senator Kamala Harris of California: Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, an air traffic controller who was furloughed during the government shutdown and lost her home in the 2017 wildfires. Harris previously highlighted Pesiri-Dybvik’s story on the US Senate floor.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts: Sajid Shahriar, a Boston-based federal employee who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Shahriar also is executive vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3258 and AFGE vice president for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Warren’s office said.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio: Rita Lewis, an advocate to save the pension system. Brown’s office said Lewis attended the address last year with the senator — part of his push for to preserve multiemployer pensions that he says are at risk of being slashed.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota: Nicole Smith-Holt, an advocate for lowering insulin prices and making health care affordable. Smith-Holt’s son died because he could not afford his medicine, and Klobuchar’s office noted the senator’s work on legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon: Yakelin Garcia Contreras, who was separated from her mother, Albertina Contreras Teletor, at the US-Mexico border. Merkley’s office says that Contreras turns 12 on Tuesday.
Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts: US Coast Guard Seaman Sarai Childs, who went a month without pay during the shutdown.