Marty Walsh chosen as ‘designated survivor’ for President Biden’s State of the Union address

The former Boston Mayor and current Labor Secretary was not present at Biden's State of the Union.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has been chosen as the designated survivor for President Joe Biden's 2023 State of the Union address. Ting Shen/Bloomberg

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was the “designated survivor” for President Joe Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address.

As Biden delivered his second yearly address to congress, Supreme Court justices, and military officials, the former Boston mayor was…somewhere else.

A tradition dating back to 1950s, the “designated survivor” is one person in the presidential line of succession who sits out the speech in an undisclosed, secure location in case disaster strikes and the President and cabinet members are incapacitated.

And this year, that person is Walsh — who will be stepping down from his position as Labor Secretary to become executive director of the NHL Players’ Association. Walsh is the first person from Biden’s cabinet to step down and the first ever Secretary of Labor to be a designated survivor.


Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was the designated survivor at Biden’s State of the Union address last year.

There are several factors that go into selecting a designated survivor, according to Former President Barak Obama’s White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu. According to Lu, who picked seven of Obama’s designated survivors, the person should be:

  • In the presidential line of succession
  • Already traveling outside the DC area
  • Someone whose department will not be discussed extensively in the speech
  • Not the same person as the year before
  • Not a former member of congress

Watch Biden’s second State of the Union here.


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