Boswell is not vulnerable in 2010

Yesterday Taniel at the Campaign Diaries blog posted about 68 Democratic-held U.S. House seats that could potentially be competitive in 2010. Iowa’s third Congressional district is not on that list.

IA-03 did not make Stuart Rothenberg’s list of competitive House seats for 2010 either.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a list of 51 targeted Democratic-held House districts in January. Lo and behold, IA-03 is not on that list either.

I realize that Boswell only won the district with 56.3 percent of the vote in 2008, but I don’t hear any chatter from Iowa Republicans about recruiting a candidate to run against him. The focus is on the governor’s race and the Iowa House.

I bring this up because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has kept Boswell on its list of “Frontline Democrats” for 2010. John Deeth recently noticed that Boswell is “by far the senior member” of the 41 Frontline candidates. Almost all of them were first elected to Congress in 2006 or 2008. The others with more terms under their belt represent districts significantly more conservative than IA-03 with its partisan voter index of D+1.

For Deeth, this is yet another sign that IA-03 deserves better than Boswell. I view it as a sign that the DCCC is wrong. Boswell definitely needed to be in the Frontline program the first five times he ran for re-election, but he was a safe six-term incumbent in 2008, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be a safe seven-term incumbent in 2010.

According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Iowa’s third district had about 433,000 registered voters as of May 1, 2009. Of those, about 399,000 were “active voters.” More than 156,000 of the active voters in IA-03 are registered Democrats. Only about 118,000 are registered Republicans, and about 124,000 are registered no-party voters.

Why should you care if the DCCC erroneously classifies Boswell as vulnerable? Frontline Democrats are exempt from paying DCCC dues, which are used to support Democrats in competitive races across the country.

Look, I would still prefer to elect a new Democrat to IA-03 in order to avoid a potential matchup of Boswell and Tom Latham in 2012. But since Boswell has no plans to retire, let him pay his DCCC dues just like every other House incumbent whose seat is not threatened next year.  

On a related note, Deeth recently cited Progressive Punch lifetime ratings as an argument for replacing Boswell. It’s worth noting that Boswell’s voting record in the current Congress is much better than his lifetime Progressive Punch score suggests. (For instance, he was not among the Blue Dogs who voted against President Barack Obama’s budget blueprint.) Yes, IA-03 should be represented by a more progressive Democrat than Boswell, but I’m cutting him slack as long as he’s not casting egregious votes in the current Congress.  

I see no reason to keep him in the Frontline program, though. We will genuinely be playing defense in dozens of House districts next year. Until there is some sign that Republicans are making a serious play for IA-03, Boswell should pay his DCCC dues.

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  • Prediction:

    I’m cutting him slack as long as he’s not casting egregious votes in the current Congress.

    That will run out by January 2010 unless a progressive challenger pops up for the primary.  And they’ll have to totally be crazy to do it because they’ll get even less support than Fallon did.

    I’d like to think Boz is going to keep tacking leftward with the party through ’10, but I think it’s unlikely.

    • there won't be a primary challenger

      I can’t imagine who would step up to the plate on this.

      I’ll be watching when the important votes come down later this year on health care reform, climate change, etc. I’m not pre-judging Boswell–I want to see how he’ll vote. His voting record is closer to Braley’s and Loebsack’s now than it was in 2007.