Republicans will tap Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to deliver the party's response to President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address next Wednesday, GOP leaders announced Thursday.

“Gov. McDonnell understands that the American people are more interested in shrinking unemployment than expanding government. He is an impressive public servant and an excellent choice to offer Republican solutions for our country,” House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said in a joint statement.

McDonnell beat out Democrat Creigh Deeds by double digits to win Virginia's gubernatorial race last year, a contest many Republicans have treated as a 2010 midterm bellwether.

Consequently, McDonnell's scheduled appearance next Wednesday night perhaps signals the party is ready to elevate him to national status. Lawmakers who deliver responses to the presidential addresses are typically rising stars in their respective political spheres, and few would deny McDonnell -- given his win in a state that fell in Obama's column the year prior -- fits that bill within the Republican Party.