When the national spotlight turns to Gov. Bob McDonnell tonight as he delivers
the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address,
he'll be surrounded by 300 people in the chamber of the Virginia House of
McDonnell plans to stand in the well of the House accompanied
by family, supporters, administration officials, activists and lawmakers, some
of whom will stand on risers set up for the live speech.
I don't know about Virginia but in Colorado we believe in the seperation of powers and protocol. That means the governor doesn't get to use the legislative chambers for political stunts. In fact the governor rarely appears in the legislative chambers at all, and usually then as an invited guest.
In Colorado legislative staffers aren't even allowed to wander down the center aisle, much less guests. This rule is very strictly enforced. In addition entrance to the chamber, for non-legislative staff, is basically limited to the press and invited guests of legislators. Occasionaly gubernatorial staff will find their way into the chambers but they'll sit on the sides with the guests and simply observe.
Republicans control the Virginia House so I imagine that this little kabuki this was arranged as a favor to the governor and the party. Still, from a seperation of powers and protocol standpoint this is a bit jarring.