Longtime Kentucky House Democrat withdraws from May primary

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian dropped her reelection bid that would have pitted her against a Democratic colleague in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a fixture in the Kentucky House for nearly 30 years, on Monday dropped out of her reelection campaign that pitted her against a Democratic colleague in Louisville.

During her 28-year legislative career, Marzian has plunged into the thick of House debates to support abortion rights, extended health care, gender equity and public education. Lawmakers have four days left in this year’s session — two days scheduled this week and two in mid-April.

The House redistricting map enacted by Republican lawmakers put Marzian into the same district as Rep. Josie Raymond. In announcing her withdrawal from the May 17 primary, Marzian said she would not play their “misogynist game of pitting Democratic women against each other.”

The Kentucky Democratic Party sued to challenge the new state House map, along with new congressional boundaries. If the state House map is struck down, Marzian said she would seek reelection in her former district. A judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the case in early April.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth is not seeking reelection this year, setting off a primary contest between two Democratic state lawmakers from Louisville — Sen. Morgan McGarvey and Rep. Attica Scott. The state’s top-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Joni Jenkins, also withdrew from her reelection campaign after the new House map was enacted. Democratic state Rep. McKenzie Cantrell opted to run for the Kentucky Court of Appeals after being put in the same House district as a Louisville colleague.

The state House redistricting plan set up two primaries pitting GOP lawmakers vying for the same seats. Two of the lawmakers are from western Kentucky and two are in eastern Kentucky.

Throughout her career, Marzian has been an outspoken supporter of progressive causes, even as policymaking turned decidedly more conservative after Republicans took total control of the legislature after the 2016 election. And she skewered some House colleagues through the years for what she saw as double standards on the abortion issue.

In 2016, in response to legislation requiring women to receive ultrasounds and “informed consent” consultations before undergoing abortions, Marzian filed a bill to put conditions on men’s access to erectile-dysfunction drugs. It would have required them to have two visits with their doctor on separate days before getting a prescription. Her measure stalled in committee.

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