Governor-elect John N. Dalton's wife will become the first governor's wife to have an office alongside her husband's in the State Capitol, a Dalton spokesman said today.
Edwina Dalton, who Dalton's staffers say exerts strong influence on Dalton, will have an office staffed by two assistants on the third floor of the State Capitol, William A. Royall, head of Dalton's transistion team, said here today.
Earlier, during a pre-inaugural breakfast for the governor in Danville, Mrs. Dalton acknowledged that she had requested space on the Capitol's small executive floor. "I don't know how I can get along without it," she said, adding "They'll probably stick me in some old corner."
Although Virginia's "First Lady" traditionally has been able to use one or two of the governor's staff assistance to plan the governor's social calendar, never before has a First Lady had an office in the Capitol. Royall said today that Mrs. Dalton would have two assistants assigned to her and that he expected Mrs. Dalton to continue playing a key role as a policy adviser to her husband.
"All wives do, and she is no exception," said Royall. Mrs. Dalton's advice to the governor-elect has covered a wide range of subjects, and Royall said that the governor and his wife often debate questions on public matters before he reaches a decision.
In Danville, Mrs. Dalton described her work for charitable and other philanthropic organizations as having occupied much of the time while Dalton served as lieutenant governor. "I've always been very active . . . always been very involved, and I don't see any real change now that John is going to be governor," she said.
While Virginia has not had a tradition of having had such an activist as the First Lady, former Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel's first wife, Barbara, was very visible during Mandel's first term. On occasion during Mandel's press conferences, she even interrupted and admonished reporters when they asked her husband questions she found objectionable.
Dalton will be inaugurated Saturday.