Aaron Coleman, 17, is a high school dropout running for Kansas governor.
He lives in Overland Park with his grandparents, and he appointed his grandmother, Marsha Tomberlin, as his campaign treasurer this month. Coleman attends Johnson County Community College and has plans to earn an associate's degree there and a bachelor's degree at the University of Kansas. Ultimately he hopes for a career in the military.
The absence of age requirements to hold some statewide offices – including governor – has spurred teenagers to launch their gubernatorial campaigns by appointing treasurers or forming campaign committees. Another teenager has taken steps to run for secretary of state.
Unlike other youths who intend to run in the Republican or Democratic primary in August, Coleman said he will run as a write-in independent candidate in the November general election. That path saves him from paying a $2,207 filing fee for a governor-lieutenant governor ticket to appear on the August ballot or from collecting signatures from 5,000 registered voters to appear as an independent candidate on the November ballot.
Coleman said he intends to knock on doors - on repeated rounds - to connect with voters.
He posted on Facebook that he announced his candidacy in July, before any other teen had entered the race. When The News told Coleman that Wichita Democrat and teenager Jack Bergeson filed campaign committee papers in May 2016 – more than a year before Coleman announced – Coleman said he had been unaware of that.
Coleman’s platform includes treating health care as a right and advocating a minimum wage of $17 an hour. The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.
The other teens who have set up campaign accounts to run for governor in addition to Coleman and Bergeson are: Tyler Ruzich, R-Prairie Village; Ethan Randleas, R-Wichita; Dominic Scavuzzo, R-Leawood; and Joseph Tutera Jr., R-Mission Hills. Lucy Steyer, D-Lenexa, is pursuing secretary of state.
The filing deadline to run in the primary is June 1. As of Wednesday, no governor-lieutenant governor ticket had filed for the primary.
Having collected signatures and qualifying for a spot as an independent ticket on the November ballot are the father-and-son team of Rick Kloos and Nathaniel Kloos, running for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.