On the night of Tuesday, Jan. 30, President Donald Trump will head to the House of Representatives to speak before a joint session of Congress, in the first official State of the Union address of his presidency. Once it's over, however, the Democratic Party will have its say, with its official responses. And while one will be delivered by Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy, another will be delivered by someone you may not have heard of before ― namely, Elizabeth Guzman, one of the Virginia Democratic delegates elected into office for the very first time last year.
Guzman, a native of Peru who immigrated to the United States and took up a career as a social worker, will be delivering the Spanish-language Democratic response to Trump's State of the Union. It'll be far and away the biggest platform the first-term Virginia delegate has ever had, and as The Richmond Times-Dispatch noted on Friday, she released a statement expressing her honor at being selected for the high-profile role.
"I am honored to have been selected alongside Congressman Kennedy to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address," Guzman said. "Through his rhetoric and policies, the president has marginalized members of my community who are simply trying to work hard and support their families. I look forward to standing up for all working people on Tuesday."
Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated Guzman's selection in statements released on Friday, with Pelosi calling her a "relentless leader for the voiceless."
We are also proud to have the Democrats’ Spanish-language response delivered by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman of Virginia, a respected advocate and community leader who represents the best of our nation’s ideals. Driven by her faith and her belief in the promise of the American Dream, Elizabeth has been a vital, relentless leader for the voiceless.
Schumer, for his part, hailed Guzman ― along with Kennedy, who'll be delivering the State of the Union response in English ― saying she's the right person to make that case that Democrats will represent middle-class interests.
In their responses to the President’s address, Congressman Kennedy and Virginia Delegate Guzman will both do an excellent job in making clear that Democrats are laser-focused on enacting policies to benefit middle class Americans, not special interests or the wealthiest.
Guzman made history in last year's elections in Virginia, becoming (alongside fellow first-term delegate Hala Ayala) one of the first two Latinas to ever be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. She joined other groundbreaking Democratic victors like Danica Roem, the first transgender lawmaker in the state's history, and Lee Carter, a self-avowed socialist who defeated the state's Republican House majority whip.
She'll be handed a big task on Tuesday night. The job of responding to the president's State of the Union address has historically not been an easy one; last year, the Democrats tabbed former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear for the role, rather than an actual elected officeholder. Throughout the Obama administration, former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and Florida senator Marco Rubio both delivered responses that were pretty widely panned.
In short, the country will be getting a high-profile look at Guzman on Tuesday night, as well as Kennedy, although he's probably already more widely known thanks to his national political office, and his iconic family name. If you're curious to see the president's address, or either of the responses to it, the State of the Union is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Guzman's response, according to The Washington Post, will be aired on Spanish-language television afterwards.