A 19-year-old candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives who admitted to sending revenge porn while he was in middle school said Tuesday that he plans to stay in the race, after vowing to withdraw from it a day earlier.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Democrat Aaron Coleman said he will continue his bid to unseat “corrupt” incumbent Stan Frownfelter, whom Coleman beat by just 14 votes in a primary earlier this month and who still plans on running for the seat.
“The corporate interests have poured a lot of money into the incumbent’s write-in campaign,” said Coleman, who admitted in June to harassing and bullying girls online when he was in middle school.
His statement continued: “Ultimately, this race will not be decided by the New York Times, or by party bosses in Topeka, and certainly not by affluent white collar professionals on the coasts who couldn’t care less if working people in Kansas have their decision to throw out a corrupt incumbent ignored.”
On Monday, Coleman said he planned to withdraw from the race amid backlash to multiple harassment accusations against him. One woman said Coleman obtained a nude photo of her and threatened to distribute it if she didn’t send him more. Coleman followed through on the threat when she refused. She was 13 at the time.
Another woman, who is now 18, said she attempted to kill herself after Coleman repeatedly insulted her physical appearance.
Coleman had also come under fire last month for writing in a Facebook post that he would “laugh and giggle” if former Kansas state Rep. John Whitmer died of COVID-19.
But later on Monday, Coleman appeared to hint at a possible retraction of his vow to drop out of the race, tweeting that his withdrawal amounted to “a defeat for democracy.”
Several prominent Kansas Democrats, including Gov. Laura Kelly, have condemned Coleman’s campaign and said they will support Frownfelter as a write-in candidate in the general election.
“Aaron Coleman is not fit to serve in the legislature,” Lauren Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman Kelly, told The New York Times earlier this month.
In a Facebook post in June, Coleman attributed some of his actions to post-traumatic stress syndrome, which he said he was diagnosed with at 15.
“So I can never justify what I did to those women, and I do apologize to them from a place of remorse and shame, but words are no longer an acceptable response today,” Coleman said in his statement Tuesday. “I think, that with more self-respect, I would have been a better person to those women in middle school.”