But at 78, he acknowledges that 2012 will be his toughest test yet. That’s because he is seeking reelection in a newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, against a Republican candidate in a race that is important to the GOP House leadership and which is attracting huge amounts of attention and money because Iowa is so crucial to the outcome of the presidential election.
Iowa lost one of its five House seats after the 2010 reapportionment, and as a consequence of the redistricting that followed, Boswell in the fall will face Rep. Tom Latham, who currently represents the neighboring 4th District and is a close friend of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
“There’s no way I’m going to match the three people I’m running against,” Boswell said in a recent interview at his Des Moines office in between fundraising phone calls. “You know I’m running against three people, don’t you?” he said with a slight chuckle. “I’m running against Latham, I think I’m running against Boehner, and there’s this guy called Karl Rove.”
Latham is Boswell’s best-funded, most experienced opponent ever, while former White House adviser Rove’s super PAC, Crossroads GPS, has spent more than $500,000 attacking Boswell with several television ads
since last summer. And Boswell thinks that some of his former donors — mostly lobbyists and PACs tied to large companies and trade associations — have been pressured by Boehner to withhold as much as $400,000 this year. Previous supporters aren’t writing checks, Boswell said, because “they want to influence the speaker and his best friend.”
Latham, who moved south from his old north-central Iowa district to challenge Boswell, said he was unaware of the speaker pressuring donors. “I’m sure people make decisions as to who they support, so that’s up to them.”
Cory Fritz, a Boehner spokesman, dismissed the allegation, saying that Boswell should worry more about “his anti-business record . . . instead of ginning up absurd conspiracy theories.”
The new 3rd District stretches from Des Moines west to Council Bluffs and is the most evenly divided district in the state. It has the fewest registered independent voters, and Republicans maintain a narrow 6,000-voter advantage over Democrats.
“It is the swingiest, most-even congressional district in the swingiest of swing states, right smack in the middle of the country,” said Sue Dvorsky, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Elected in 1994 — the year that Boehner was deputized to oversee the crafting of the GOP’s “Contract With America” — Latham became fast friends with the Ohio Republican.