Just days after pledging to exit the race, a controversial teenage candidate for the Kansas House who has garnered national attention for his history of revenge porn and blackmail reversed course Tuesday and now says he will remain on the ballot.
Aaron Coleman, 19, had been accused of and admitted to instances of blackmailing a middle school classmate with nude photos as a 14-year-old, as well as other instances of bullying.
Uproar against him gained steam over the weekend in many national outlets, including the New York Times, as his past conduct, which also included derogatory remarks about Republicans during the COVID-19 pandemic, was condemned by Democratic Party leaders.
But despite this, Coleman said in a statement that he won’t exit the race as he had initially announced Sunday morning.
In the release, he said that dropping out would allow local party officials to renominate incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-Kansas City, whom he called "corporatist" and "out-of-touch."
Voters, he said, had reached out to encourage him to remain on the ballot.
"They said that they did not vote for me expecting that I was a perfect person," Coleman said. "They told me that all of us have sinned, and we all make mistakes."
Frownfelter, a seven-term incumbent, has said he will mount a write-in campaign, arguing voters didn’t fully understand Coleman’s background.
Republican Kristina Smith, sensing opportunity among a divided Democratic field, has also said she will stage a write-in campaign.
Top Democrats have condemned Coleman’s candidacy, citing his past behavior, and House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, has said they will support Frownfelter’s bid to retain his seat.
Coleman also ran as a write-in candidate for governor in 2018 on a liberal platform.