CTNJ file photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (CTNJ file photo)

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will be one of 23 guests invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama to listen to President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address Tuesday.

The White House said it invited Malloy, who is also head of the Democratic Governors Association, because he “has pursued many of the progressive priorities that the President laid out to make America stronger.”

Some of the priorities cited by White House officials in a statement, included increasing the minimum wage, Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” initiatives, and the “common-sense gun safety laws” approved following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“Gov. Malloy has balanced important social reforms with strong economic priorities,” the White House said in a statement.

Malloy said he was honored by the invitation.

“It’s truly an honor,” Malloy said in a statement. “I want to thank the President and the First Lady for this once-in-a-lifetime invitation.”

Malloy also attended Obama’s announcement last week in the East Room regarding the 10 executive actions the president planned to take to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.

“We’re doing big things in Connecticut,” Malloy said. “We’ve passed the smartest gun law in the nation, and we’ve helped drive a national conversation to help prevent gun violence. The President is taking action on this important issue just as we have in Connecticut – it is commonsense to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”

One seat in Obama’s box will be left empty for the victims of gun violence “who no longer have a voice.”

Obama is expected to highlight the issue of gun control in his speech Tuesday.

It’s an issue that’s frustrated the president since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy invited Mark Barden, the co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, to be his guest for Tuesday’s speech. Barden’s 7-year-old son Daniel was killed in the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Last week, Barden introduced Obama at the event in the East Room.

The White House said the individuals chosen to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama represent “the progress we have made since the President first delivered this speech seven years ago – from the brink of a second Great Depression and two costly wars to an economy that is growing and renewed American leadership abroad.”

Other guests include a Syrian refugee, the CEO of Microsoft, a police chief, a gay rights activist, a survivor of the San Bernardino shooting, a healthcare advocate, the U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant credited with subduing gunman on a Paris-bound train, a veteran, a mayor, small business owner, and the first female to graduate from Army Ranger School.