Write-in candidates challenge Coleman in 37th District

Kristina Smith
Keith Jordan
Rep. Stan Frownfelter
Aaron Coleman

Most election years, if a district has only one candidate on the ballot for the general election, it’s almost a sure bet the candidate will be elected.

This year, however, sees a campaign being mounted for write-in challengers to Aaron Coleman, 19, who upset Rep. Stan Frownfelter in the Democratic primary for the 37th District.

Rather than being “for” issues, the write-in candidates seem more motivated by being “against” Coleman, who during the primary campaign admitted to revenge porn and bullying when he was younger. There also were allegations of abuse against a girlfriend. Coleman also was criticized for social media comments that some said were inappropriate, such as wishing people who went to rallies without masks got COVID-19.

There may be many write-in candidates in the 37th District, and they are not required to register with the secretary of state’s office.

‘Stop Coleman’ effort announced

Today, a new “Stop Coleman” effort was announced, complete with a political action committee to provide funding.

“We thought it would be a good idea to create an organization that specifically focused on letting voters know about the conduct of Aaron Coleman,” said Edward Rosson, chairperson of the PAC. “While others figure out their strategy, we could be doing the work to let those others be successful.”

He said they plan to fund social media campaigns and mailers to voters in the 37th District.

Rosson, who lives in Lansing, Kansas, registered the Stop Coleman PAC to a post office box address in Lebo, Kansas, according to campaign finance records. The PAC’s treasurer, Jamie Jarvis, is in Lebo, which is in Coffey County.

While he doesn’t live in Wyandotte County, Rosson said he worked almost the entire election cycle in 2018 here with the Brent Welder campaign for Congress, then with the Progressive Turnout Project. This year, Rosson worked with the Bernie Sanders campaign in Iowa, and he is currently the 2nd Congressional District director for the Progressive Turnout Project.

“His (Coleman’s) platform is certainly progressive, but the things that came out about his conduct and his treatment of people is in my view anathema to progressive values,” Rosson said today. “You cannot consider yourself a progressive and harass and abuse people.”

He said he doesn’t think most of the voters in the 37th District had heard of Coleman’s past mistakes.

Rosson said he isn’t sure if the consensus alternative will be Rep. Frownfelter or if another write-in candidate will emerge.

He said by the end of today, he’ll probably have $200 in donations to the PAC that will be used for social media and for political literature to be distributed in the district.

Coleman has described himself as a progressive who is in favor of legalizing marijuana, universal health care, defunding the police and free community college tuition.

After winning the primary election, Coleman said he would withdraw, then a few days later he changed his mind and decided to stay in the contest.

Coleman said last month that he thought it would be too hard to run as a write-in candidate. He’s tried it himself in the past and it is too difficult, he said. He ran for governor previously, and also ran for Board of Public Utilities last year.

Although there has been much criticism of Coleman’s past behavior, one person who was in favor of Coleman staying in the race was State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist. Seven of the precincts in the 4th District also are in the 37th District.

Sen. Haley said he had been a supporter of juvenile justice initiatives in the past that call for second chances for juveniles, and he didn’t want to be inconsistent now and deny Coleman a second chance.

Write-in candidates have one thing in common – opposition to Coleman

There are three write-in candidates we’ve heard of so far: Rep. Stan Frownfelter, Kristina Smith and Keith Jordan.

The week of the primary election results, Rep. Frownfelter, 69, said he would run as a write-in candidate in the general election Nov. 3. Rep. Frownfelter has been in office since 2007 and he described his positions on the issues at http://wyandottedaily.com/questionnaire-rep-frownfelter-seeks-re-election-to-37th-district/. (See also http://wyandottedaily.com/coleman-wins-37th-district-nomination-by-14-votes/)

The two other write-in candidates for the 37th District include Kristina Smith and Keith Jordan.

GOP candidate launches write-in campaign

Kristina Smith, the treasurer of the Wyandotte County Republican Central Committee, didn’t decide to run for office until after the June 1 filing deadline.

It wasn’t until Coleman came by her house to campaign that she thought about running, she said. They talked about a half-hour and “I just did not agree with his policies and I told him I didn’t agree with him,” she said.

Later, other information came out about him and then she decided to file her intention of being a candidate with the secretary of state, she said. Write-in candidates don’t have to file with the secretary of state or election office, according to officials.

She started her write-in campaign just a short time before the primary, and did not receive the 500 write-in votes necessary to get her name on the general election ballot, but she is not giving up, she said. She said she will try a write-in campaign at the general election.

“I’m pro-life, I support law enforcement,” Smith said. “My husband is a 32-year police veteran.”

The first thing Coleman mentioned to Smith was that he wanted to defund the Police Department. “I do not believe in that,” Smith said. “I believe we need strong law enforcement for our community.”

If in the future there are any tax increases presented to the Legislature, Smith said she would be in favor of cutting other places and not increasing taxes.

Smith is not in favor of legalizing marijuana, and doesn’t want Kansas to turn into Seattle or Portland, she said. There are a lot of other problems that come with legalizing marijuana, she added.

Smith, 52, is self-employed as a paralegal and bookkeeper. She has a son in the U.S. Marines and a daughter who is a cosmetologist.

She said a 19-year-old is not quite mature enough yet to understand some of the issues that go along with serving as a state legislator.

She works as a volunteer with the Republican Party, and has served as campaign treasurer for Sen. Kevin Braun, R-5th Dist., and worked with a few other state campaigns.

Smith has lived in the Turner area for 26 years. A Shawnee, Kansas, native, Smith attended Shawnee Mission Northwest High School and Johnson County Community College before leaving for a job with a law firm. When her children were in school at St. Joseph’s, she served as parent-teacher president and other volunteer positions.

Smith said she realizes the campaign will be a challenge.

“It is an uphill battle,” she said. “I have got all my brochures in print. We are walking the neighborhood.”

She plans to distribute yard signs later this month and hopes to have some campaign events in the future.

Jordan also a write-in candidate for 37th District

Keith Jordan, who ran for Kansas City, Kansas, mayor in the last mayoral election, also is a write-in candidate for the 37th District.

During the pandemic, Jordan is using some creative ways to reach voters, including a Facebook question-and-answer session tonight.

A broadcaster with radio KQRC-FM 98.9, “The Rock,” Jordan’s radio nickname is “T-Bone.”

“The plain and simple truth is the fact that I cannot in good faith and conscience allow Aaron Coleman to represent District 37,” Jordan said about his reasons for running. “That’s not who we are in this district.”

Even with a clean record, someone who is 19 is young for the position, he said.

“When I was 19, no way I was responsible enough to be doing anything in government,” he said.

Jordan, 46, is a Turner High School graduate who is a registered Democrat. He says he likes some of the Democratic platform and some of the Republican ideas.

“I’m just one of those down-the-middle people,” he said. “If it’s an idea that works, I don’t care whose it is.”

Jordan said he would probably be in favor of Medicaid expansion.

If marijuana is legalized, it would need to be federally regulated, he said. Legalization could be a way to help get rid of the state’s deficit and get more money into the state, he said. In some cases it has helped cancer patients deal with pain.

Although there are a lot of younger people advocating to defund the police, “to me this is ridiculous,” Jordan said.

He said the state should provide more funding to police for more training to deal with people who might have mental issues or be on drugs. He would advocate bonuses for officers who get certification in certain areas, he said. He added he is an advocate for a stronger police presence in the neighborhoods, with more contact with the community and youth to build trust.

He also would be in favor of more funding for local government, he said. He would offer incentives for local law enforcement to retain and hire qualified officers and for training.

Jordan said he is not in favor of any sex offenders being taken off the state’s sex offender list.

Jordan has an associate’s degree from Kansas City Kansas Community College, and after that, he went to work in radio, where he has been 26 years.

He also has coached youth sports, as well as has done volunteer work feeding the needy in the community. He also runs bingo for the Abdallah Shriners and has volunteered at other events as well.

For previous stories, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/coleman-wins-37th-district-nomination-by-14-votes/


Coleman says he’s back in the 37th District race

Aaron Coleman (Submitted photo)

Aaron Coleman, 19, who on Sunday announced he was withdrawing from the contest for the 37th District, today said he’s back in the race.

Coleman won the Democratic nomination for the 37th District, House of Representatives, over veteran lawmaker Rep. Stan Frownfelter.

There is no candidate opposing Coleman on the general election ballot; however, Rep. Frownfelter, a Democrat, and a Republican opponent, Kristina Smith, have said they would run as write-in candidates in November.

Coleman, a college student who is a dishwasher, was ahead by one vote on election night, and then won the primary election by 14 votes at the canvass. He said on Sunday he was planning to submit a letter withdrawing from the race because of family medical hardship.

If he dropped out, Democratic precinct committee members would have selected a replacement on the November ballot.

During the primary campaign, last-minute negative information came out about Coleman that alleged he had engaged in revenge porn more than five years ago as a middle school student, which he admitted, plus other allegations involving bullying. Although Coleman said he has changed, some of the Democratic establishment distanced themselves from him, and there were some calls for him to resign.

Today, Coleman sent out an email that he was changing his mind and staying in the race. He stated he had heard from many people who voted for him, who urged him not to drop out. “They said that they did not vote for me expecting that I was a perfect person,” he wrote.

He said today that he had dropped out Sunday to try to focus on his family. What he realized is he would be putting the interest of himself and family above the interest of the community, he said.

Within a couple hours after he announced his withdrawal on Sunday, his phone and text messages started to blow up with people who had helped in his campaign, who said he can’t do this, he said.

“They told me about their struggle to pay rent and put food on the table,” Coleman said.

“I did some soul-searching,” he said. “Had I taken my name off the ballot, Stan Frownfelter would have been renominated.”

He said he reached that conclusion after some conversations with precinct committee members.

Coleman wrote in his email, “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.”

As for the November election, Coleman said, “I’m going to run like I’m scared, like I’m 10 points down.”

He said he is planning to go door-to-door in the district again.

“If you don’t talk with everybody, when you go to Topeka, you can’t represent everybody because you haven’t spoken with everybody,” he said.

Teen candidate says he’ll withdraw from 37th District race

Aaron Coleman (Submitted photo)

by Mary Rupert

Aaron Coleman, 19, the Democratic nominee for state representative, 37th District, said on Sunday that he will withdraw from the election.

Coleman said in an interview on Sunday that he was withdrawing because his father is ill and has been hospitalized for the past 10 days. He said he is planning to submit a letter by Sept. 1 to the Kansas secretary of state withdrawing from the contest because of medical hardship.

“For me and my family, I have no choice but to use medical hardship to take my name off the ballot and allow the Democratic precinct people to choose the next nominee,” Coleman said.

He said this past year has been very hard on his family; he lost his brother about a year and a week ago.

Coleman upset veteran legislator, Rep. Stan Frownfelter, in the Democratic primary for the 37th District on Aug. 4, ahead by one vote on election night and then ahead by 14 votes after the voter canvass on Monday, Aug. 17. Frownfelter said last week he will run as a write-in candidate. Also announced as a write-in candidate was Republican Kristina Smith.

Last-minute allegations surfaced during the primary campaign that Coleman had engaged in revenge porn more than five years ago when he was in middle school. Coleman confirmed it to reporters, and said he had changed since then.

Coleman’s story took on a life of its own, and the news of his election circulated internationally. His candidacy was widely commented upon on social media, and some government officials in his party commented that he wasn’t fit for office.

“I was not expecting this kind of attention,” Coleman said Sunday. “My goal was to serve my community, and it was just too much for me.”

Shortly after he was elected, Coleman said he was surprised and hadn’t expected to win.

Coleman said he had talked with Democratic Party leaders during the past two or three weeks who made it clear the only way it would all go away was if he made the right decision and just got off the ballot.

He also has received threats from others during the campaign, he said.

“Over the course of the campaign I have received many threats,” Coleman said. People had told him to kill himself or said that people will help him do it, he said.

“This is too much for a 19-year-old,” Coleman said.

He said he was glad to step back from politics over the next several months and focus on his family.

Coleman said he is planning to go back to college next week, taking online courses. His goal remains to try to get into the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Program after he gets his associate degree, and to go into the military service as a career, he said.

“I’ve learned that I need to be more gracious and more humble,” he said. “I’ve learned people don’t change overnight; people don’t change just in five years. I have to continuously work on myself and work on the person I want to be.”

Coleman earlier said he won election because he went door-to-door in the 37th District, listening to voters’ concerns. His experience with that taught him that he doesn’t have to be the most intelligent or richest person to win, but just put time and energy into it, he said.

Coleman said it’s his opinion that Rep. Frownfelter had the wrong values for the district. Coleman is a progressive who favors pro-choice and pro-environment issues.

“I’m hopeful the precinct people will make the right decision and choose somebody who represents the Democratic primary voters,” he said.

Coleman sent out an email earlier on Sunday:

“Leaving the race

“After talking it over with my family and my supporters I have made the difficult decision to withdraw my name from the ballot as the Democratic nominee for House District 37. My father was recently hospitalized and in combination with the recent developments in the race it has put a significant strain on my family. Their wellbeing is too important to me to continue as the nominee.

“Rather than waiting, I’m doing this now so that the Democratic Party can find a suitable replacement. Stan Frownfelter does not fight for the values of House District 37. The voters already rejected him once. Now the Democratic Party can choose someone better as their nominee.

“It was an honor to be chosen as the Democratic Party’s nominee and I am deeply grateful to everyone who supported my campaign. We proved that Kansas Democrats are progressive Democrats and change is possible when you fight for it. Thank you for being a part of that fight.”