Udall seeks 'date night' for State of the Union

WASHINGTON – Most of Colorado's congressional delegation will try to sit together again today during the State of the Union address at the urging of one of their own.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., first proposed the idea of a bipartisan “date night” for the State of the Union in 2011, asking lawmakers to cross the aisle to sit with colleagues of the opposite party after the attempted assassination of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. Previously, politicians sat on different sides of the House of Representatives chamber.

Udall will be sitting with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, for the second year in a row, according to staff members for both senators. Udall and Murkowski sent a letter to Senate and House leaders last month asking for another year of cooperation, hoping to make this a permanent tradition.

Udall's guest will be his wife, Maggie Fox, according to spokesman Mike Saccone.

This will be the third year the majority of the Colorado delegation, made up of two Democratic senators, four Republican representatives and three Democratic representatives, will sit side-by-side.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., will be part of the Escort Committee, which welcomes the president and escorts him to the chamber. He will then try to sit with the Colorado delegation, according to his spokesman Adam Bozzi.

Bennet's guest will be Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown, Bozzi said.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, also will try to sit with the delegation, his spokesman Josh Green said. Tipton's guest has not been determined yet.

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, skipped the 2012 State of the Union in protest. He will attend this year's address, said his spokesman Catherine Mortensen, but he has not decided where he will sit or who he will bring as a guest.

Previously, his wife, Jeanie, has gone with him, Mortensen said.

U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, and Diana DeGette, D-Denver, invited the mother and uncle of AJ Boik, an 18-year-old who was killed in the Aurora movie theater massacre this summer, according to ABC News.

Teresa Hoover, AJ's mother, and her brother, David, will be two of the more than 20 people affected by gun violence in attendance at the State of the Union as guests of many Democratic lawmakers, according to CNN.

Stefanie Dazio is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. You can reach her at sdazio@durangoherald.com.

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