All is not well in the state of Kansas, where 19-year-old Aaron Coleman is wishy-washing his way through his election for a state House seat, after a huge Democratic primary upset in which he beat 13-year incumbent representative Stan Frownfelter. Once he won the nomination, Coleman was smacked in the face with the same thing every politician eventually gets hit with: his past self. According to a report by the Kansas City Star, Coleman admitted to “bullying, revenge porn, and blackmail[ing] of multiple girls while in middle school,” which, considering that he is only 19, was not all that long ago. On the heels of this admission, Coleman said he would drop out of the race—but on Tuesday, Coleman changed his mind and decided he would see the race through to the end.
On a statement posted to his Twitter account, Coleman explained that he would not drop out of the race because of his commitment to advocating for “policies that improve the lives of ordinary people” and because politicians should not be expected to be perfect. “We cannot undo democracy because I am a flawed individual who has made mistakes,” he wrote. Coleman also argued that his withdrawal would “immediately return to power the same corporatist, out-of-touch 7-term incumbent that voters just rejected.” This is quite a statement coming from a boy who admitted he was blackmailing girls his age with nude photos only five years ago.
In an effort to really drive the point home, Coleman also stated that he was staying in the race for the hopeless young citizens, “especially men” in his community. He writes, “I have the opportunity to stop others from meeting my fate and I will not sit by and let the shame and remorse I feel, stop me from actually making a difference.” Coleman argues that had he just had “more self-respect,” and not struggled so much from being born into a low-income family, he would have “been a better person to those women in middle school.”
One girl who went to school with Coleman told the Kansas City Star that Coleman verbally abused her so severely, she considered suicide. Another said Coleman harassed her to the point of calling her family’s home repeatedly until someone answered.
This isn’t just a case of a youthful mistake: Coleman was enabled to behave this way and is now being encouraged, according to him, to pursue elected office and have a say over policies that will affect the very same types of girls he abused. Meanwhile, the girl he blackmailed with nude photos will likely never even be able to consider running for office, lest those photos—the ones disseminated by her potential future state representative—come back to haunt her.