By Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has declined a White House invitation to sit with first lady Laura Bush at tonight's State of the Union address, deciding to attend the event as a guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Fenty spokeswoman Carrie Brooks confirmed yesterday that the city's new mayor will sit in the gallery along with others invited by Pelosi (D-Calif.), who recently became speaker after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives.
" 'Pelosi asked us first,' " Fenty said, according to Brooks.
Although former mayor Anthony A. Williams, like Fenty, is a Democrat, Williams sat with the wife of Republican President Bush. Presidents often acknowledge guests in the VIP box during the address, and Williams was often captured on television as the cameras panned to the seats around the first lady.
During his campaign for mayor, however, Fenty pledged that he would not sit as a guest of the White House because the president had not supported the city's quest for voting representation in Congress. "He committed during the campaign not to sit in the first lady's box," Brooks said.
Fenty has the made voting rights a top priority of his administration, beginning with a call for D.C. statehood in his inaugural address.
He has lobbied Pelosi to support a bill co-sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) that would give the District a voting representative in the House.
Fenty will be joined by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and his wife, Judge Katie Curran O'Malley, also invited by Pelosi, a Baltimore native. Fenty and the O'Malleys will also attend a reception in Pelosi's office suite before the address.