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Aaron Coleman reverses, says he'll stay in Kansas House race despite 'mistakes'

Aaron Coleman reverses, says he'll stay in Kansas House race despite 'mistakes'
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Kansas House candidate Aaron Coleman reversed course on Tuesday and announced he will stay in the race despite his “mistakes” after admitting to sending revenge porn and cyberbullying girls while he was in middle school.

Coleman, 19, backtracked from his earlier withdrawal as the Democratic nominee in a statement on Twitter, saying he heard from “many people” who wanted him to stay in the race for his policies. 

“They said that they did not vote for me expecting that I was a perfect person,” he said. “They told me that all of us have sinned, and we all make mistakes.” 

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“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,” he added. 

The 19-year-old dishwasher and community college student won the nomination against incumbent state Rep. Stan Frownfelter by 14 votes. Coleman said the “sustained attacks” he received after winning and “the hardships my family is facing” originally influenced him to drop out of the race. But in his statement, Coleman said voters changed his mind.

“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.”

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The candidate supports "Medicare for All", ending evictions, a Green New Deal and "fixing the broken school system that failed me."

Frownfelter, who has vowed to run a write-in campaign against Coleman, told The Wichita Eagle that he disagreed with his fellow candidate’s characterizations of him as an elitist and a corporatist.  

“I just can’t believe that he continues to tell lies about what I’ve accomplished,” Frownfelter told the newspaper. “I don’t understand why he’s slamming another Democrat. And I’ve never said a word about him.”

Coleman gained national attention and criticism after he said allegations from women who said he participated in online bullying, blackmail and sending revenge porn while he and they were in middle school were true. The candidate has addressed and apologized for his actions in middle school. 

After Coleman had announced he was dropping out of the race, The New York Times reported that he would have to file a petition with the secretary of state before Sept. 1 and give reasons for the withdrawal. 

Democratic leaders have spoken out against the 19-year-old’s candidacy, with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) saying through a spokesperson that he is “not fit to serve in the Legislature,” according to Insider.

Coleman will face Frownfelter and other write-in candidates in November, as there is no Republican candidate for the district.