Dan Zwonitzer

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Dan Zwonitzer
Member of the Wyoming House of Representatives
from the 43rd district
Incumbent
Assumed office
2005
Preceded by Edward Prosser
Personal details
Born (1979-10-30) October 30, 1979 (age 34)
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Political party Republican
Residence Cheyenne, Wyoming
Alma mater Georgetown University
Religion United Methodist

Dan Zwonitzer (born October 30, 1979) is a Republican Party (GOP) member of the Wyoming House of Representatives from District 43,[1] which comprises south-central Laramie County and includes southeastern Cheyenne.

On May 8, 2008, Zwonitzer, having trailed in campaign fund-raising, withdrew as a candidate for the GOP nomination for the United States House of Representatives in the August primary to succeed the retiring Barbara Cubin of Casper. He will instead seek renomination to the Wyoming House. Zwonitzer is a moderate Republican by Wyoming standards, known for his support for gay rights in a traditionally conservative state. Former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis of Cheyenne went on to win the race, and the election.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Zwonitzer is a native and fifth-generation resident of the state capital, Cheyenne, Wyoming.[3]

He has one brother and is uncle to his brother's only son.

He graduated from Cheyenne East High School and attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. where he received degrees in Government and Classical History. He returned to Cheyenne after college and has worked for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and as a natural resources policy analyst in the office of Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal. He is an auctioneer.

Wyoming Legislature[edit]

Zwonitzer was propelled into the state House in 2004 by having unseated incumbent Edward R. Prosser in the Republican primary.[4] He then polled 60 percent of the general election vote.[5]

Prosser, the son of the late Representative Dean T. Prosser, tried to unseat Zwonitzer in the 2006 primary, but he was unsuccessful[6] and Zwonitzer cruised to reelection.[7]

Zwonitzer was reelected in the 2008 campaign by a 2-1 margin over Democratic challenger Kevin Lumsden.

Since Zwonitzer's first election, no other candidate has been able to defeat an incumbent Wyoming state representative as a primary challenger. Upon election, Zwonitzer became the youngest serving Wyoming legislator since former Wyoming state treasurer and fellow Republican Cynthia Lummis was elected to the House in 1978.

Dan and his father, David Zwonitzer, are the first father-and-son team in Wyoming history to simultaneously serve in the state legislature. David Zwonitzer was appointed to the legislature to represent District 9 (northeastern Cheyenne) in May 2006 after the previous representative moved to another district. He was thereafter elected to his first full term.[8] His father also owns a local furniture store and followed his son's lead into public service.

Committees[edit]

Zwonitzer currently sits on the Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee, Agriculture, Public Lands & Water Resources Committee, State Building Commission Liaison, State Workforce Investment Board, and is the alternate for the NCSL - Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce.

Equality[edit]

Dan Zwonitzer was hailed by gay rights activists nationwide when, on February 22, 2007, he spoke against a proposed bill that would have prohibited Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Zwonitzer told the House Rules Committee that he needed to oppose the measure – even if it cost him his seat – because he believed that was the right thing to do. He told the committee that gay rights were the civil rights struggle of his generation. "I will tell my children that when this debate went on, I stood up for basic rights for people," he said.

Committee member Tom Lubnau, a Republican from Gillette, sided with Zwonitzer. "Maybe the right thing to do is stand up for tolerance," Lubnau said. The committee voted 7-6 to kill the bill, with Republican Speaker Roy Cohee of Casper casting the tie-breaking vote.

Zwonitzer later discussed his speech on a radio program hosted by Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign[9] and was picked up quickly by several bloggers, including Michael Petrelis, who posted the entire text of Zwonitzer's speech to the House Rules Committee on his blog.[10]

On May 6, 2007, Zwonitzer was awarded the "Uncommon Courage Award" by the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization lobbying for gays within the Republican Party, at its annual national convention in Denver. The award, which applauds Republican elected officials for displaying "leadership in fighting for basic fairness for gay and lesbian families," was also presented to Michigan State Representative Lorence Wenke and New York Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward.[11]

References[edit]

External links[edit]