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State Sen. Amanda Ragan is being hit with an aggressive campaign to defeat her bid for a fifth term in the November election.

Ads paid for by the Iowa Republican Party show an unflattering photo of her, with a yellow tint over it, with headlines such as “Amanda Ragan, conservative at home, liberal in Des Moines” and “Hard-working Iowa families are paying the price because of liberal Amanda Ragan.” The ads then list several votes that she has taken that Republicans believe prove their point.

There is no intent in this space to defend Ragan. This is not her first rodeo, and she has always proven capable of defending herself.

The thing that is striking about the ads is there is no mention of her opponent. Quick, now – who is running against Ragan? Do you know? Did you have to think about it for a moment?

In politics, name recognition, particularly early on, is crucial – and yet the Iowa Republican Party does not name their candidate in their anti-Ragan ads.

The implication is that it doesn’t matter who she is running against – just don’t vote for her. Party over person.

Are you still thinking about who is running against her? It is Shannon Latham of Sheffield, co-owner with her husband John and vice president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. They are a third-generation family in the lucrative Latham seed business, and she is related through marriage to longtime Iowa congressman Tom Latham, who is now retired.

Latham is seeking office for the first time. You would think she has either approved the attack ads or needs the assistance of the Iowa Republican Party in whatever form that might take.

Some Ragan supporters wonder who is really funding the anti-Ragan campaign and suspect out of state money is involved. They feel Ragan is being targeted because Republicans believe she is vulnerable in her quest for re-election. If that’s true, it’s not the first time she’s been targeted.

In 2006, when Ragan sought election to her second term, it was no secret that James Dobson, the famous conservative evangelist who lives in Colorado, gave support to her Republican opponent and made his views quite clear on whom he thought was the best candidate in an Iowa legislative election.

Republicans do not have a stranglehold on this party-over-person philosophy. The Iowa Democratic Party is filling mailboxes with literature that in effect says, “Anybody But Steve King” and then rails against some of the Republican congressman’s most controversial comments. The ads never mention his opponent. Do you know who it is? Give up?

It is Cyndi Hanson of Sioux City, a Republican who will challenge King in the June primary with the winner facing off against the victor in a Democratic primary involving three candidates – Leann Jacobsen of Spencer, John Paschen of Ames and J.D. Scholten of Sioux City.

Political advertising defies all norms. Can you imagine someone placing an ad on behalf of a car dealership in which it ripped into a competing dealership without ever mentioning whom the consumer should favor?

Fasten your seat belts, folks.

It’s just spring.

John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.

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