Over-the-Top Mailer in Dickerson-North Contest

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Steve Dickerson is certainly open to criticism in his state Senate race. To all those soccer moms in Green Hills, he tries to come across as a reasonable, moderate Republican. But when he's talking to social conservatives, he suddenly transforms into Rush Limbaugh, embracing largely unpopular right-wing positions. In an Eagle Forum questionnaire, for instance, he revealed he's for making abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest. We doubt many voters in Nashville's Senate District 20 agree with that.

Democrats pointed out a few of Dickerson's extreme viewpoints in this direct mail piece. But did the party go too far by opening this mailer with this picture of a frightened woman holding her child next to the word "BEATING"? At first glance, you might think Dickerson is accused, like another GOP legislative candidate, of domestic violence. The woman even seems to have a black eye.

We asked the party's communications director, Brandon Puttbrese, if he could defend this mailer, and he replied:

Dickerson would not be good for women or children. We need a leader in the legislature who will protect our families, not endanger their future by cutting investments in public schools and eliminating health care protections for women.

"Beats up" is not the same as "takes a beating," which is a common phrase used to describe harm being done.

That's splitting hairs, isn't it? We realize Democrats are desperate to hang onto Joe Haynes' Senate seat. The Tennessee Journal rates Dickerson's contest with Democrat Phillip North as a tossup. But with mailers like this, the party risks turning off more voters than it attracts for North.

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