A political campaign mailer that ended up inside 20,000 middle Tennessee mailboxes this weekend has a lot of people talking. The image on the flier is the source of controversy: it shows an ISIS flag flying high in front of a home in a suburban neighborhood.
The mailer targets Republican district 20 State Senator Steve Dickerson, sent by his challenger in the Republican primary, Ron McDow.
Also on the flyer is a “welcome” mat written in Arabic-style writing, along with the question, "Does Steve Dickerson want ISIS living next door to your family?"
McDow says Dickerson's vote against a resolution asking the state to sue the Federal Government over settling refugees in Tennessee, as well as his refusal to sign a letter asking Governor Haslam to ban future Syrian refugees from entering the state, means terrorists could slip into Tennessee.
“We're protecting Tennesseans and doing everything we can,” Dickerson said in response. “Do we need to continue being vigilant? Of course. Do we need to be thoughtful and forward thinking? Of course. But I don’t think the resolution would have forwarded that.
But McDow says Dickerson made the decisions only to be politically correct, without considering the impact on the safety of Tennesseans.
“You can talk to a Syrian, you don't know what side they're on,” McDow said.
Dickerson says McDow is simply trying to sensationalize the issue. He says refugees go through thorough background checks and that any implication that he's laying out a welcome mat for terrorists is a lie.
“Of course not, of course not,” Dickerson said. “What I want is public safety for everybody in Tennessee, and I want to be a country where people who want to come live the American dream can come make a better life for their families.”
Tennessee’s Primary election will be held August 4.