KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A 19-year-old political newcomer, Aaron Coleman, says he can unseat the experienced Kansas State Rep. Stan Frownfelter.
The race is too close to call. Coleman is up by just one vote, with 768 votes to Frownfelter's 767.
A Republican candidate did not file to run this election.
"Regardless if this flips once the mail-in ballots come in, this election has shown the strength and the power of the progressive movement," Coleman said.
The Wyandotte County election board is still counting mail-in and provisional ballots through Friday and a board of canvassers will finalize the results on Aug. 17.
Frownfelter said he attributes the results to low voter turnout.
"We had 25, 30 percent in Wyandotte County, the largest ever for a primary. But yet my district was less than 10 percent; it was only 1,500 people who voted Had it been up around 3,000 I think it could have been better," Frownfelter said.
Frownfelter has been involved in politics since 2007.
Coleman is pushing for free medical care and college, recreational cannabis, and touts his grassroots campaign.
"I think if we really want representation by the people, for the people, we need to get money out of politics, and that starts by getting rid of bought and sold politicians," Coleman said, referring to his opponent.
Coleman received an endorsement from Social Democrats USA.
Both candidates support expanding Medicare in Kansas.
Frownfelter said his experience will carry him through. He called out Coleman for inflammatory social media comments in which Coleman expressed it would be funny if Republican lawmakers who didn't wear masks died of COVID-19.
Coleman has since apologized.
"I think if I wasn't running for office, saying some of the things I said at 19 wouldn't be so controversial, but I took on the decision to run for office so now I need to act it, I need to be mature," Coleman said.
Frownfelter said those comments do not represent the Democratic party.
"I think he's going to find it difficult with that attitude because I learned something in my 14 years up there — that oak trees don't last long. You need to be a willow, you need to be able to bend and comprise," Frownfelter said.
Frownfelter said he works behind the scenes and sometimes his votes don't always align with his party, but he votes for issues that he thinks will benefit the state.
"I'm not one of those follow strict guidelines on how I'm going vote," Frownfelter said. "I do what I think reflects my district, what reflects me as a person and something I can live with."
If the final results are still this close, Frownfelter said he will call for a recount. He would have to file by 5 p.m. on Aug. 18.