Abernathy Aims to Unseat Dickerson in Senate Race

Longtime educator who lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic sets her sights on replacing Senator accused of health care fraud

Kimi Abernathy
Kimi Abernathy

NASHVILLE, TN—Murfreesboro native and lifetime Tennessean Kimi Abernathy is running to replace Republican incumbent Steve Dickerson, who is running for reelection, for State Senate District 20.

She’s an Iranian-American, military wife and mother of five, and though this is her first time being the face of a campaign, she’s been a member of the Davidson County Democratic Party Executive Committee and worked with the leadership team of The Equity Alliance. She has also served on the Bedford County Foster Care Review Board, the Bell Buckle Planning Commission, Alignment Nashville Social and Emotional Learning Team, and is the President of the Board for Corps54.

As someone who’s lived in rural, urban and suburban communities throughout her life and as a first-generation American on her father’s side and the second generation on her mother’s side to attend college, Abernathy said she understands the needs of many different constituencies.

A longtime educator, Abernathy has taught special-needs children, worked as a school administrator and a counselor. She now owns her own business as an independent educational consultant.

She’s worked with and advocated for children her entire life, she said, including her children, her students, young people in foster care, children with drug issues, formerly incarcerated young people, students with special needs and young people who have experienced trauma.

“I’m about supporting and protecting our children, our families, our schools and our communities,” Abernathy said of her reason for running for office.

That support means advocating for equitable public school funding, advocating for clean water and air, and Medicaid expansion.

Another driving factor in her candidacy is the opioid epidemic, a years-long crisis that has devastated many communities nationwide –especially rural areas– and has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Politics is personal, the saying goes, and that’s especially true for Abernathy when it comes to opioids–she lost her Godson to an overdose a decade ago.

The Tennessean reported Dickerson, who founded the medical company Comprehensive Pain Specialists, was sued in a lawsuit that alleged the company committed health care fraud. The suit against him and fellow co-owner Dr. Gilberto Carrero was permanently dismissed in June, and Dickerson maintained his innocence. The lawsuit alleged that Dickerson and Carrero knew the company’s former CEO, John Davis, was responsible for the scheme that defrauded government health programs of $25 million, the publication said. CPS is still being sued. 

“Watching my Godson die of an overdose was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. Watching his parents and siblings live with the after-effects has been excruciating. Medicaid expansion is part and parcel of the means for addressing this crisis.”

She’s received the endorsement of the Tennessee American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (TN AFL-CIO) and was awarded the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate honor. Abernathy comes from a family of hunters and supports banning high-capacity assault weapons and magazines, background checks for all gun sales and red flag laws, and believes that individuals on no-fly lists, those with violent criminal records or a history of mental illness should not own a gun. She’s also “absolutely opposed” to permitless carry.

Tennessee’s election will be held Thurs., Aug. 6. For more information on Kimi Abernathy’s campaign, visit kimi4tnsenate.com or you can email her at [email protected]