Submitted by Mary Rae Bragg, on behalf of the 50-50 in 2020 Board of Directors 

As we head into the fall election, rumblings about "negative" campaigning have already started. 

What do we mean by negative tactics? What is considered positive campaigning? 50-50 in 2020's bipartisan board of directors would like to share our perceptions on the subject with candidates from all parties, at every level.


  • Explaining how your policy on a particular issue differs from that of your opponent. This is a legitimate, in fact, necessary element of any campaign. Tell us what you stand for and how it is different from your opponent’s policy.
  • Painting a vision of the future.Tell us what you plan to do and why that will make our state better.
  • Working hard to connect with as many voters as you can. Explain your record. Tout your experience and your abilities without criticizing your opponent personally.

What’s negative?

  • Launching personal attacks on your opponent. That practice should have been left behind in junior high (or as it’s now called, middle school).
  • Defining your opponent with derogatory labels and slogans. They are not informative and they insult the voters’ intelligence and sensibilities.
  • Demonizing your opponent. This practice only demeans the one doing it.
  • Taking words and phrases out of context and twisting their meanings. This practice should be beneath the dignity of honest candidates and parties. Manipulating your opponent’s visual image is a similar form of deceit.

We can have a hard-hitting, full-bore campaign on the issues without sinking into the muck of negative campaigning. Iowa voters are more than ready for a civil, respectful contest. We sincerely hope the candidates and their parties will deliver.

The 50-50 in 2020 Board of Directors is comprised of Jean Lloyd-Jones, Iowa City; Maggie Tinsman, Davenport; Charla Schmid, Red Oak; Mary Rae Bragg, Dubuque; Christine Louscher, Algona; Graciela "Tita" Coffman, Coralville; Cheryl Jahnel Erb, Charles City; Melissa Gesing, Des Moines; Courtney Greene, West Des Moines; Valerie Hennings, Sioux City; Doris Kelley, Cedar Falls; Libby Slappey, Cedar Rapids.

50-50 in 2020 is a nonpartisan organization whose goal is to recruit, train and mentor women candidates in sufficient numbers that by the year 2020, the centennial of women’s suffrage, women will hold 50 percent of the seats in the Iowa Legislature, 50 percent of the Iowa congressional delegation, and the governor’s office.