authors Stephen Elliott
Local educational consultant Kimi Abernathy has launched a campaign for the state Senate seat currently held by Steven Dickerson, the last Nashville Republican in the state legislature.
Abernathy, a graduate of the Emerge Tennessee training program for Democratic women and a member of the Davidson County Democratic Party Executive Committee, said she was running in order to expand Medicaid, support public schools and protect the environment. Prior to becoming an educational consultant for families, Abernathy had a long career in private and public education, including as a public school teacher and a school board member while moving around for her husband’s Army career.
“There is, however, one more reason I am running,” she said. “The Tennessee Senate is currently governed by a supermajority of Republicans. They do not have to, and indeed have not, allowed a voice to the minority. Consequently, no effort is made to be moderate. We need balance again.”
Dickerson has previously positioned himself as a voice of moderation, and particularly one who can communicate between the overwhelmingly Democratic Nashville delegation and the Republican supermajority. (Republican Sen. Ferrell Haile’s district includes a small part of Davidson County, though he lives in Sumner County.) Dickerson won re-election over Democrat Erin Coleman in 2016 by a margin of more than 12 percentage points.
“The election is over a year away,” Dickerson told the Post, declining to say whether he intended to seek re-election. “Right now I am focused on the next legislative session and continuing to represent the people of the 20th district.”
Should Dickerson seek re-election to a third term in the Senate, he will face a Republican challenger, too, as he did in 2016. Brentwood business consultant Diane Michel is already running for the Republican nomination.
He is also facing legal trouble, as the state and federal governments have filed joint legal action against Comprehensive Pain Specialists, a pain management company co-owned and co-founded by Dickerson. Prosecutors allege that Dickerson himself profited $6.5 million in what the government describes as a Medicare and TennCare overbilling scheme.