Democrats try to oust Kansas representative, who quits party

    Democrat Aaron Coleman defeated an entrenched incumbent for a seat in the House while championing a Green New Deal. But that accomplishment is overshadowed by controversy. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

    TOPEKA — House Democrats moved Tuesday to expel Rep. Aaron Coleman from the Legislature, and Coleman announced he was leaving the party.

    The 20-year-old newcomer faces criticism about his abuse of women and girls, wishing death from COVID-19 upon Republicans, and a post-election tweet in which he promised to take out a hit on Gov. Laura Kelly.

    House Minority leader Tom Sawyer announced Tuesday he had filed a complaint against Coleman, triggering a bipartisan investigation into whether he is fit to serve.

    “I believe that everyone should be given a second chance, sometimes even a third chance, but Rep. Coleman continues to show time and time again that he is unfit to serve in office,” Sawyer said.

    He said Coleman “is a danger to women.”

    “His removal is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of legislators and Capitol staff,” Sawyer said.

    Coleman won election in a Kansas City district by unseating incumbent Democratic Rep. Stan Frownfelter. Coleman attributed the win to his socialist views.

    Democrats refused to welcome Coleman into the caucus, give him an office or assign him to a committee.

    “The path I pursue has broad support among lawmakers from both parties,” Coleman said. “In fact, rank and file Democrats and Republicans — including some elected members of the Kansas legislature — have made it clear to me that they do not support the Democratic leadership’s attempt to shut me out of the Statehouse and deny the people of House District 37 proper representation.”

    Coleman said he will register as an independent legislator.

    A coalition of seven Democratic women renewed their call for Coleman to resign rather than prolong the attempt to oust him from the Legislature. The women are Reps. Stephanie Byers, Jennifer Day, Linda Featherston, Christina Haswood, Jo Ella Hoye, Mari-Lynn Poskin and Lindsay Vaughn.

    “Recent violence at the United States Capitol makes it even more important to hold elected officials to a higher standard,” they said in a statement. “Words matter. Actions matter. He is unfit to serve.”