The GOP has a fight in District 31 and they are going to do what they do best, fight dirty. Tennessee Lt. Governor Randy McNally has reportedly purchased significant air time on Memphis media, on behalf of Brian Kelsey, and is running ads that mischaracterize and malign Gabby Salinas, and, there is no other way to put it, lying about her positions.

The ad claims that Gabby Salinas "supports stealing benefits from our elderly," and cites her website as the source of the claim. This is categorically untrue, as anyone who can read will see, just by visiting her website. In fact, Ms. Salinas is a strong supporter of all those left behind by the Republicans in Tennessee, including the elderly and the disabled.

Further, the characterization of Ms. Salinas as "socialist" is a complete mischaracterization of her position. She does support accepting federal grants to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, which is just common sense, and which is also supported by Republican Governor Bill Haslam. By the time the legislature reconvenes in 2019, the Republican Tennessee legislature will have refused to accept nearly $6 billion of federal funds, money that would have been used to provide health care to over 500,000 Tennesseans, and could have prevented the closing of so many Tennessee hospitals.

Of course, to Republicans accustomed to feeding at the public trough for only themselves, any activity that benefits regular Tennesseans must look like Socialism. But not expanding Medicaid is killing jobs, killing economies, and killing our fellow Tennesseans.

With their history of attack ads, and given the example provided by the current President, we knew that Tennessee Republicans would not miss an opportunity to sling malicious misleading statements, half-truths, and distortions about Democrats in a bald-faced attempt to misinform voters. Combined with Kelsey’s other literature, which dog whistles race and nationality and implies Ms. Salinas’ heritage is to be feared, the GOP has hit all the wickets in their playbook and voters are tired of it.

With recent polling that tells him he has a real race on his hands, we understand Mr. Kelsey’s reluctance to run on his record. If our record included votes that penalized free speech*, reduced the authority of local governments**, and encouraged discrimination against the LGBTQ community ***, as well as a years-long refusal to accept billions of dollars for the state’s most disadvantaged citizens, we would want to run on something besides our record as well.

We call on Mr. Kelsey to renounce these tactics, to direct Mr. McNally to immediately cease these ads, and to apologize to all Tennesseans, but especially the residents of District 31, who deserve better from their elected officials.