Boswell makes long list of Republican targets

Republicans and their allies have been keeping up the pressure on Congressman Leonard Boswell (IA-03) this summer. The Republican National Committee ran radio ads trying to get Boswell to oppose health care reform, while MidAmerican ran newspaper, radio and television ads attacking Boswell after he voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (the climate change bill).

On Tuesday the National Republican Congressional Committee released a list of 70 Democratic-held U.S. House districts it says it will target next year. Huffington Post ran the full list along with this Republican description:

Those targeted satisfy at least one of these requirements: They won less than 55 percent of the vote last year or they represent a district carried in 2008 by John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee.

Boswell is on the list, even though Barack Obama easily won Iowa’s third district, and Boswell was re-elected with just over 56 percent of the vote last year. Although Boswell remains in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for supposedly vulnerable incumbents, Iowa Republicans don’t seem to be focusing on candidate recruitment for this race. Maybe Krusty Konservative is right and Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn is thinking about running against Boswell. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail if you’ve heard chatter about a potential Republican opponent.

Most analysts do not consider IA-03 competitive in 2010. (After redistricting it’s a different story.) CQ Politics recently released new House ratings and put IA-03 in the “Democratic favored” category, a notch above “Leans Democratic” but a notch below “Safe Democratic.”

Over at Swing State Project, James L. posted an extremely useful table showing all 70 districts on the NRCC’s target list, the incumbent’s name, the partisan voting index, the 2008 margin of victory, and whether Republicans have at least one legitimate candidate lined up. As you can see if you click over, lots of people on this list had very large winning margins last year–much larger than Boswell’s. They include quite a few Blue Dogs who represent red districts but haven’t faced a serious Republican challenge for a long time.

If most of these districts are lost causes for Republicans, why release such a large target list? I agree with James L.:

Many of these races probably won’t produce competitive contests, but there’s absolutely no downside for the NRCC to be putting these incumbents on notice — not only will the targets being painted on these members’ backs have the potential to affect legislative votes, it helps to promote the idea that the NRCC is preparing for a big wave in their favor in 2010.

If the NRCC can scare some safe Democratic incumbents into voting against Obama’s agenda, fearing a potentially strong Republican challenge, that’s the next best thing to winning the district from the GOP’s perspective.

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  • underperformer

    Blue Dog Boz is on the list because he’s been underperforming the district for most of the decade. 2008 was a glory year for Dems, but nobody Kim Schmett still reached 44%, better than some of the higher-touted candidates.

    I’ll be blunt: Boswell is (despite recent improvements) a poor fit for the district, old, and not in great health. But Iowa Democrats would rather lose the seat than hurt Leonard’s feelings. The redistricting pair is going to be Boswell-Latham and I don’t see Leonard winning that one. The GOP is smart enough to know that and even if they don’t take a serious shot in `10 they’ll attack him anyway soften him up for `12.

    • I agree

      I wish big Democrats would have talked Boswell into retiring in 2008. I am not optimistic about our chances running Boswell or a new candidate (if Boswell retires) against Latham in 2012.

      • Boswell's heirs

        Assuming that the district ends up as a “Greater Des Moines” district, I think there are a couple of people who could hold their own against Latham.

        I think Frank Cownie would do well. So would Kevin McCarthy. Mike Kiernan is doing a good job networking at IDP. If he doesn’t drop the ball in 2010 and get drummed out, he could mount a formidable campaign. Outside of that, I don’t know. I’m sure there are other people that would do well, though.