A 19-year-old Democrat running for a Kansas state house seat has admitted being “abusive” towards an ex-girlfriend but denies claims he choked her in a hot tub.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Aaron Coleman responded to a report published by The Intercept last week in which Taylor Passow, 21, recalled the alleged assault last year.
Ms Passow said they were sitting in a hot tub at an Airbnb in Kansas City last December when Mr Coleman brought up his interest in having a threesome.
According to Ms Passow, she told him she wasn’t interested but as a joke said maybe as a birthday present she could break up with him for one day and he could have one.
“He sat there for a few seconds, then he jumped on top of me, put his hands around my throat and started squeezing, and slapped me three times, and said, ‘I don’t know where the f**k you think you’re going’,” she told The Intercept.
In text messages between the pair four days later, published by the website, Mr Coleman appears to dispute her version of events, saying she had a “funny memory”.
“That never happened,” he wrote. “You dumped me and I smacked you and you smacked me and I immediately got up and stormed out of the hot tub.”
She replied, “Lol. Okay.”
In his statement published on Sunday, Mr Coleman blamed “large quantities of alcohol” and described the relationship as “mutually abusive”.
“While it is true I was abusive to my ex-girlfriend, I do not agree with the characterisation being made about our experience in the hot tub the day after Christmas,” he said.
“I did not choke her. I also don’t think she is intentionally lying, as I know large quantities of alcohol could be affecting both of our memories. The two months I dated Taylor were mutually abusive, and this is not a justification for what I did but the reason why I must lead by example.”
Mr Taylor then bizarrely used the statement to promote his election platform, saying he believed “if we had more early childhood education funding, and taught what healthy interpersonal relationships look like, my ex and I would have been less toxic to each other”.
He also said the abuse showed “we must pass ‘Medicaid for All’ so people can receive counselling and mental health support based on need for treatment and not ability to pay”.
“I believe with some counselling, my ex and I would have had more self-respect and would have treated each other better,” he said.
Mr Coleman is running in a heavily Democrat district where there is no Republican challenger, and has been causing headaches for the party after recently ousting the seven-term incumbent in a shock primary.
He first made headlines when it emerged he had been involved in a “revenge porn” incident in high school at 14, sharing a naked photo of a girl after attempting to force her to send him more pictures.
He announced last month he was dropping out of the race, but later reversed course after his voters told him “all of us have sinned, and we all make mistakes”.
“They said they voted for me because they believe I am committed to doing what politics is about – advocating policies that improve the lives of ordinary people, of working people, of those like me and those like them,” he said in a statement at the time.
Mr Coleman said pulling out of the race would “immediately return power to the same corporatist, out-of-touch seven-term incumbent that voters just rejected”, referring to Stan Frownfelter, who lost the primary ballot by 14 votes.
State Democrats have distanced themselves from Mr Coleman and the fundraising organisation ActBlue has dropped him, Fox News reported, saying he was “out of alignment” with their mission.
Mr Coleman, who works as a dishwasher, blamed the move on “corporate Democrats”.