Tricia Zunker says it's back to work after Wisconsin primary victory

Tricia Zunker celebrates her primary election win Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Tricia Zunker campaign.)

Aliyah Chavez

Tricia Zunker wins Democratic nomination in Wisconsin’s special congressional primary election #NativeVote20

There are 83 days until May 12.

That means Tricia Zunker has 83 more days to convince Wisconsin voters that she is the right fit to represent them in Washington. If Zunker wins May’s general election, she will officially be elected as the third Native woman to serve in this session of Congress. She would also be the second Ho Chunk citizen to serve.

But the first step to get there was to win the primary election. And Zunker did that last night in a landslide.

Zunker, Ho-Chunk, was officially nominated as the Democrat's candidate to represent Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district. In a special election Tuesday, she defeated her opponent Lawrence Dale with 88 percent of the vote.

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Special primary election results according to the Associated Press

“This is a historic night for a Ho-Chunk woman to win this primary,” she told Indian Country Today after winning the Democratic nomination.

Tricia Zunker Primary Victory
Tricia Zunker wins Democratic nomination for Wisconsin’s special congressional primary election #NativeVote20  (Photo by Tricia Zunker for Wisconsin.)

(Previous story: History again? Voters could send another Native woman to Congress)

Zunker spent her evening surrounded by family and friends at a campaign party in Wausau, Wisconsin. Her party was held at a locally owned bowling alley called Day's Bowl-A-Dome. Shortly after her race was called, she thanked her supporters.

And now it is back to work for Zunker, who is an associate justice of the Ho-Chunk Supreme Court and Wausau School Board member.

“I’ve been focusing on May 12 from the beginning,” Zunker said. “So I’m very excited for the next step.”

Zunker will face Republican Tom Tiffany in the May special election. Tiffany served one term in the Wisconsin State Assembly— and is currently serving his second term as a state senator. Tiffany is also a small business owner and ‘a proven conservative for Wisconsin.’

The seat is open because Republican Rep. Sean Duffy resigned from his position in September to spend more time with his family. Duffy has endorsed Tiffany as the candidate to replace him in Congress.

Tricia Zunker’s nine year old son watches her vote in Wisconsin’s special congressional election, where she is running for Congress. (Photo by Tricia Zunker for Wisconsin.)

(Related story: Tricia Zunker’s journey from school board to Congress)

Zunker says she is ready to take on the challenge of defeating Tiffany by staying true to her message of working hard for families, running a grass-roots campaign and working across the aisle.

Zunker said she has been campaigning “non-stop” throughout Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district. The district is home to 26 counties. It accounts for roughly one-third of the state of Wisconsin. There are also nine reservations in this district.

“All of this is so deeply meaningful to me,” Zunker said. “And we are one step closer to having more Indigenous representation in Washington.”

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at

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