Democrat Aaron Coleman says controversies driving him from House race

By: - August 23, 2020 2:26 pm
Democrat Aaron Coleman, of Kansas City, Kan., says controversy about his stalking women while in middle school and other issues lead him to believe it best to quit his race for the 37th District seat in the Kansas House. He won the August primary against Rep. Stan Frownfelter. (Submitted to Kansas Reflector)

Democrat Aaron Coleman, of Kansas City, Kan., was elected to the Kansas House in November. His future colleagues and others have called for him to resign or be removed from office due to allegations of his violence against women. (Submitted to Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Democratic nominee Aaron Coleman said Sunday he planned to quit his general election campaign for a Kansas House seat representing a district in Kansas City, Kan.

Coleman, who narrowly defeated seven-term incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter in the August primary, said he intended to rely on the medical hardship provision in state law defining the ability of candidates to withdraw from the ballot.

“For me and my family, I have no choice but to use medical hardship to take my name off the ballot and allow the Democratic precinct people to choose the next nominee,” Coleman said in an interview with the Wyandotte Daily.

State law restricts the ability of a nominee to voluntarily withdraw. Since 2015, a nominee must certify to the secretary of state that he or she was withdrawing because of “severe medical hardship to self or immediate family, with certification of medical hardship signed by a doctor.” A withdrawal also could be accepted by the secretary of state if the candidate no longer resided in Kansas or had died.

In the primary, Coleman captured 823 votes to 809 for Frownfelter. There was no Republican on the primary ballot in the 37th District. Frownfelter and Republican Kristina Smith have expressed interest in mounting write-in campaigns.

Coleman, 19, has confirmed allegations he engaged in online bullying, harassment, stalking and revenge porn of girls five years ago while in middle school.

“I regret my past actions and h ope to continually learn from them as I grow into the person I hope to be,” Coleman said on Twitter. “My dad is in the hospital and I never expected this kind of attention. It’s too much.”

Late in the primary, Coleman also came under fire for declaring he would find it amusing if Republicans who refused to wear a mask to avoid spread of COVID-19 caught the virus and died. He apologized for that statement.

On Aug. 17, he said he was honored to be the Democratic nominee in the 37th District. He said his campaign was about offering voters “an option for change and a more progressive direction for our party.” He subsequently acknowledged state Democratic Party leaders had urged him to vacate the nomination.

Kansas House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat, said Frownfelter had served Wyandotte County with integrity.

“Mr. Coleman does not represent the values of House Democrats,” Sawyer said. “Mr. Coleman has continuously proven himself unfit to serve in the Kansas Legislature.”

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.