Kansas candidate admitting to revenge porn faces write-in

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A veteran Kansas House member said Monday that he’ll run a write-in campaign this fall after a narrow primary loss to a 19-year-old candidate who has been disowned by some Democrats for his incendiary social media posts and because he abused girls online when he was 14 years old.

Rep. Stan Frownfelter lost to challenger Aaron Coleman by 14 votes in their Kansas City, Kansas, district after officials in their home of Wyandotte County counted additional ballots that had been set aside because of questions about the voters’ eligibility. Coleman initially led by only five votes but picked up 16 votes Monday, against seven for Frownfelter, to make the tally 823-809.

Frownfelter could ask for a recount but said he expects instead to run a write-in campaign for the Nov. 3 general election. He said a recount would cost him up to $1,800, with little or no chance of success, when that money could be used to pay for a campaign mailer. No Republican candidate is on the ballot.

“I’m not much on quitting, so I’ll be out there until November,” Frownfelter said during an interview.

Coleman, a dishwasher and community college student, has attributed his success in the race to his door-to-door campaigning after running on a liberal platform that includes universal health coverage, eliminating college tuition, defunding the police and legalizing marijuana. He said Monday that he “had no intention of winning” but only of raising important issues.

“I look forward to having the opportunity to knock on more doors than I ever have before,” he said during an interview. “People who actually live in Wyandotte County actually know me and my opponent, and they don’t get their information about us as candidates off of news headlines, so they’re not worried.”

Coleman garnered headlines for a social media post suggesting he would “laugh and giggle” if a former GOP state lawmaker died of COVID-19 and another post endorsing abortion up to the moment of birth. He apologized for the comments but said in an email Friday, “These issues are life and death.”

In a Facebook post in June, he acknowledged that allegations that he engaged in online bullying, blackmail and revenge porn were true. He said his past behavior targeting several middle-school girls was that of “a sick and troubled” 14-year-old and said Friday that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being confined in a closet for much of his time at elementary school — a claim the local school district has denied.

Frownfelter, a 69-year-old small business owner, first won the seat in 2006. He previously never had primary opposition and had no opponent at all in five of his seven past races.

“Mr. Coleman has continuously proven himself unfit to serve in the Kansas Legislature,” House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat, said in a statement Monday, echoing a comment Friday from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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