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Kentucky State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian withdraws from May primary

The longtime lawmaker said the Republican majority in Frankfort drew the maps to push out women.

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

During her 28-year legislative career, Marzian has supported abortion rights, extended health care, gender equity and public education. 

The House redistricting map enacted by Republican lawmakers put Marzian into the same district as Rep. Josie Raymond. 

"The trend of the males in this legislature, especially the four Republican male legislators from Jefferson County, is to return this body to an all-male club," Marzian said. "Their toxic agenda to all Democrats, especially female Democrats, came to a head this session with the insidious redistricting that deliberately forced female incumbents into the same districts, pitting longtime female incumbents against each other."

Rep. Kevin Bratcher, a Louisville Republican, said he thinks women should have more representation in Frankfort but doesn't think the maps were drawn to oust women currently in office.

"That is absurd," Bratcher said. "I am working hard with three Republican state representative women candidates now. Mary Lou will say anything to further her radical far-left agenda." 

RELATED: Judge hears arguments in Kentucky redistricting case

Rep. Jerry Miller, another Louisville Republican who led the redistricting efforts in the House, said these maps were not intended to remove women from office. 

"If you look across the state, there were four Republicans that faced each other in two districts —  three of those were men, one was a woman," Miller said. "There were women in Louisville that were put together primarily because they live so close together."

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.

Marzian's departure would be the latest in a series of pending shakeups in the state and federal delegations representing parts of Louisville.

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. 

RELATED: Judge refuses to block new GOP-drawn districts in Kentucky

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.

While the four Louisville women in the House are not running for reelection, there are women running to replace them in their districts. 

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.

Women make up roughly one-third of the members serving in the Kentucky House of Representatives. That's the most in the commonwealth's history. 

A little more than half of those women are Democrats and 10 represent areas in Jefferson County.

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