HARRISBURG, Pa. – An incumbent Pennsylvania state representative was joined by a familiar face when lawmakers took the oath of office Tuesday — his own mother.
Six-term Republican Rep. Ryan Mackenzie's district borders, for a couple miles, the one that his mother was elected to in November.
Freshman state Rep. Milou Mackenzie, 70, an interior designer and former schoolteacher, is also a Republican. They'll sit next to each other on the House floor during voting sessions and plan to carpool from their Lehigh County districts.
They lay claim to being the first mother-son pair elected to serve together in the chamber.
“It was really awe-inspiring” to be sworn in together, Milou Mackenzie said. “We didn't set out to make history or anything, but the fact that it was a historical moment is not lost on us.”
They both laughed when asked what will happen if they end up voting against each other.
“We're independent thinkers, so I don't think it'll cause any problems at all,” she said. “We may disagree at times as family members sometimes do. But it won't affect our relationship.”
Milou Mackenzie has long been politically active, and when the Republican who last held the seat where she lives announced he would not seek reelection, Ryan Mackenzie, 38, asked his mother if she had any candidates to suggest.
She said she knocked on doors and tried to find someone, to no avail. She prayed about it. Then it struck her.
“All of a sudden, I said to Ryan, ‘I think I’m going to do it,'" she recalled.
They both won contested races in November and joined the Republican majority for the 2021-22 session that got underway this week.
Similar things have happened elsewhere.
South Dakota has a Republican mother-son duo of state lawmakers as well, though they work in different chambers. Rep. Lana Greenfield took over the House seat of her son, Sen. Brock Greenfield, in 2015 when he switched chambers.
In Ohio, state Rep. Gayle Manning holds office across the legislative hall from her son, state Sen. Nathan Manning, a fellow Republican.
In the Montana Legislature, state Sen. Keith Regier has two children serving in House of Representatives. All three are Republicans. His son, Matt Regier, holds his father’s former House seat. Matt Regier’s sister, Amy Regier, joined the House for the 2021 session.
AP reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Montana, contributed.