Coleman withdrawal opens door for GOP

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Wyandotte County Republicans would get a chance to put a candidate on the ballot for House District 37 if Democrat Aaron Coleman is successful at withdrawing from the race, state election officials said Monday.

Coleman announced Sunday that he wants to withdraw from the race after he was rebuked by his own party for online bullying of girls when he was in middle school.

His departure would leave it up to the precinct committee members in House District 37 to pick a new nominee.

Both parties could put someone’s name on the ballot although the Republican nominee would likely have an uphill battle in the Democratic-leaning district.

Coleman’s plans to withdraw will trigger a state law passed in 2015 that allows a nominee to remove their name from the ballot because they face a medical hardship or moved out of state. A name also can be removed in case of death.

The Legislature passed a law limiting the ability of candidates to remove themselves from the ballot after a legal battle erupted in 2014 when former Democratic Shawnee County district attorney Chad Taylor pulled out of the U.S. Senate race.

At the time, the law allowed candidates to withdraw if they provided a letter saying they couldn’t carry out the duties of the office.

Former Secretary of State Kris Kobach tried to stop Taylor from withdrawing, but the state Supreme Court ultimately ordered Taylor’s name off the ballot.

The new law says Coleman can’t withdraw his candidacy until after the state canvass at 2 p.m. Friday when he would officially become the nominee of the party.

Once the withdrawal is submitted, the Democratic and Republican parties have 10 days to call and hold a meeting to select a replacement candidate to put on the ballot.

After the replacement candidate is selected, the county chair will forward the nomination certificate and the written acceptance of candidacy to the secretary of state or county election office within 14 days of the original candidate’s withdrawal from the race.

Frownfelter has already indicated he would he would seek the nomination from precinct members from the 37th House District.

State law also allows Republicans to nominate a candidate for the ballot even though no one filed for the seat in June.

Meanwhile, Republicans say they are encouraging Kristina Smith, treasurer of the Wyandotte County Republican Party, to the get on the ballot in the District 37 race.

Smith, a paralegal, has already put $1,200 into her campaign and filed paperwork appointing herself as treasurer. She has been endorsed by Kansans for Life.

The district is solidly Democratic, however.

Gov. Laura Kelly won the district with 60% of the vote  in 2018. Hillary Clinton won the district with 54% of the vote in 2016 and Democrat Paul Davis won it with 59% of the vote in the 2014 governor’s race.