Wyoming Mother/Son Would Not Be First

By John Celock

The Wyoming mother and son duo seeking legislative seats this year, if successful, would not be the first mother and son to serve simultaneously in a state Legislature.

Earlier this week, Kym Zwonitzer was approved by Wyoming election officials to run as an independent in a Cheyenne area state Senate district. Zwonitzer is facing Republican Anthony Bouchard, who defeated her husband, Rep. Dave Zwonitzer (R), in the GOP primary. Zwonitzer’s son, Dan, has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives since 2005 and is currently seeking his seventh term.

While father/son combinations have been more common in state Legislatures, with Dan and Dave Zwonitzer being one of several currently serving in a state Legislature; in terms of mother and sons, there is one pair currently serving in North Dakota, while several have served in other states.

In North Dakota, Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) was first elected to the Senate in 2008 and was joined by his mother, Rep. Mary Schneider (D-Fargo) in the Legislature in 2014. The Schneiders come from a political family, with Mary Schneider’s late brother-in-law, John, and nephew, Jasper, both being former members the state House of Representatives. Mac Schneider’s first year in the Senate and Jasper Schneider’s last year in the House overlapped. Mac Schneider’s wife, Crystal, is a city commissioner in Grand Forks and Mary Schneider’s husband and Mac Schneider’s father, Mark, is a former state Democratic Party Chairman.

In New Hampshire, state Rep. Laura Jones (R) overlapped for one term with her son, former Rep. Kyle Jones (R). New Hampshire’s 400-member state House of Representatives and multi-member House districts, has led to several pairs of spouses and siblings to serve at the same time.

Former Arkansas Rep. Donna Hutchinson (R) has the distinction of serving with both of her twin sons, Jeremy and Timothy, at some point during her six-year tenure as a legislator. Jeremy Hutchinson was elected to the state Senate in 2010, with the first two years of his Senate tenure overlapping with his mother’s last two years in the House. Timothy Hutchinson’s 2005 to 2011 service in the House of Representatives saw an overlap with his mother’s 2007 to 2013 service. Jeremy Hutchinson and Timothy Hutchinson previously served at the same time in the state House from 2005 to 2007.

Donna Hutchinson’s ex-husband, and the father of her sons, is former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, whose brother, Asa, was elected governor of Arkansas in 2014. Rep. Kim Hendren, who is married to a sister of Tim and Asa Hutchinson, is a member of the state House and a former state senator, while his son, Jim, is a state senator.

New Jersey had a father/daughter pair serve in the Legislature at the same time, former state Sen. Bob Littell (R) served at the same time as his daughter, former Assemblywoman Allison Littell McHose (R) for several terms. Littell and Littell McHose both represented the same Sussex County based legislative district during this time. Littell’s wife and Littell McHose’s mother, Ginny, is a former state Republican Party chairwoman.

In neighboring New York, former U.S. Rep. Guy Molinari (R), was succeeded in his congressional seat in 1990 by his daughter, Susan, after the elder Molinari’s election as Staten Island borough president. Susan Molinari, who was minority leader of the New York City Council before going to Congress, later married then U.S. Rep. Bill Paxon (R), who represented a suburban Buffalo district.