Democrat Aaron Coleman, the 19-year-old who caused national ripples after winning a Democratic primary for a Kansas legislative seat in spite of a past that included posting nude pictures of a 13-year-old girl online, has reversed his decision to drop out of the November election.
Over the weekend, Coleman — citing massive negativity that accompanied his Aug. 4 primary victory and saying he needed to focus on his sick father — declared that he was dropping out of the race.
Coleman had written on his campaign Facebook page in June that allegations against him “include: bullying, revenge porn, and blackmail — I just want to make clear all these allegations are both true and occurred only digitally.”
On Tuesday, he changed course again and tweeted a statement saying he had changed his mind about changing his mind. Coleman said he was responding to what he called the “many people” who told him they wanted him to run.
“They said that they did not vote for me expecting that I was a perfect person,” he said in his statement. “They told me that all of us have sinned, and we all make mistakes.”
“Voters do not throw out a 7-term incumbent for a person like myself unless they are deeply frustrated with their lack of representation and demanding a change,” the Democrat said.
Coleman said the scrutiny he received was an aberration.
“I obviously did not expect to have my entire personal life, especially what I did in middle school, put under that kind of national microscope,” he said.
He said the voters in the 37th District of the Kansas House deserve what they wanted on primary day.
“I won because voters decided that the policies I believe in — providing universal health care coverage through Medicare for All, stopping evictions and investing in public housing, taking action against polluters and funding a Green New Deal to create jobs, and fixing the broken school system that failed me — would improve their lives,” Coleman said.
“I won because, along with my campaign volunteers, I spent months knocking on doors, talking to the people of my working-class community, and convincing them that I would do a better job of advocating policies to improve their lives than the corporate-funded incumbent who largely has ignored them and left them to struggle. That’s how democracy should work.”
“My withdrawal would immediately return to power the same corporatist, out-of-touch 7-term incumbent that voters just rejected. They did not only vote for me but they voted for my platform and for change for our community,” he said. “We cannot undo democracy because I am a flawed individual who has made mistakes. That is not fair to those voters. They deserve to have a choice this November.”
For immediate release 08-25-2020
Statement from Democratic Party nominee Aaron Coleman of Kansas’ 37th District on Staying on the Ballot pic.twitter.com/vg4WbxLjIU
— Aaron Coleman 🌹 (@Aaron4KS37) August 25, 2020
— Aaron Coleman 🌹 (@Aaron4KS37) August 25, 2020
Democratic state Rep. Stan Frownfelter, who was defeated in the primary 823 votes to 809, said he regretted Coleman’s tone.
“I just can’t believe that he continues to tell lies about what I’ve accomplished,” Frownfelter said, according to the Wichita Eagle. “I don’t understand why he’s slamming another Democrat. And I’ve never said a word about him.”
Twitter buzzed over Coleman’s return.
“Corporate Democrats” are apparently the only people he thinks are critical of his sexual predatory past and of how he beats women.
He still refuses to take any real responsibility. Aaron Coleman is a danger to women. https://t.co/ms1nym1Y8B
— Sasha Fennec (@fennec_sasha) August 25, 2020
I have a 19 year old son.
He has never nor would he ever exploit another human being or encourage anyone to self harm.
So the “he wasn’t old enough to know better” is a crap excuse.
Aaron Coleman was old enough to know better.
— The Wendy Lady 💛 (@wendyleaps) August 25, 2020
After his ridiculous tweet over the weekend about feminism & Donatism, Aaron Coleman now decides he’s staying in the race. https://t.co/Z7eiEgL417 This whole thing is rough to watch. I believe in redemption, but everything about him screams entitlement.
— dri (@DriXander) August 25, 2020
Frownfelter and Republican Kristina Smith have each said they will conduct write-in campaigns for the seat, according to KCTV-TV.
Kati Hampton, 20, of Kansas City, Kansas, who said she was the individual whose nude photo was disseminated online by Coleman when she would not send him more pictures, has said Coleman does not belong in office.
“I don’t think somebody who’s done what he’s done needs to be in any position of power,” she said, according to The New York Times.
The Kansas City Star reported in an editorial that a woman whose name was not released recalled Coleman, in sixth grade, “calling me fat, telling me to kill myself, like I’m never going to find anyone, like I’m worthless, just downgrading me every day.” She said the abuse caused her to consider suicide.
In an interview with the Kansas Reflector, Coleman admitted to posting a Facebook message exulting over the possibility that former state Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita radio talk show host and a Republican, could die of COVID-19.
“John, I’m going to laugh and giggle when you get COVID and die,” he wrote. “At least we can say you died doing what you love. Ask your buddy Herman Cain how it worked out for him.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.