Embattled 21-year-old Kansas rep loses Democratic primary in KCK

Rep. Aaron Coleman, D-Kansas City, KS
Rep. Aaron Coleman, D-Kansas City, KS((Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP, File))
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:59 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KANSAS CITY, Ks. (KCTV) - A young Kansas state representative whose tenure has been marred by criminal investigations and a reprimand from his political party lost his Democratic primary race Tuesday night, likely ending his time in the state House of Representatives.

Aaron Coleman, 21, garnered just 321 votes in Kansas’ 37th District, which includes part of Kansas City, KS, and Wyandotte County. He was defeated by Melissa Oropeza, who received, 1,203 votes. Faith Rivera came in second with 923 votes.

Coleman made headlines in 2020 when he won the Democratic primary to the Kansas House in his district, defeating longtime incumbent Stan Frownfelter by just 14 votes. He was believed to be the youngest politically-backed nominee in Kansas history, at 19 years old. He won the subsequent general election and became a Kansas state representative at age 20.

This led to some nationwide attention, but Coleman’s stardom was short-lived, as he became mired in controversy over admissions of online bullying, blackmail and revenge porn. This was followed by a pair of arrests in 2021. Police said he was speeding and failed to yield to an emergency vehicle in Douglas County, and was also charged with domestic battery stemming from a fight with his younger brother. Coleman underwent mental health counseling to avoid prosecution.

Under a barrage of bad press from the incidents with Coleman, the Kansas State Democratic Party suspended him from the party for two years, citing misconduct. State Democratic leaders admonished the young lawmaker and urged him to resign.

Coleman took to Twitter late Tuesday night to respond to the loss, saying, “Congrats to Melissa Oropeza. I hope this decision is the best for everyone. Thank you to all my supporters and everyone who voted.”