Zaun and Mahaffey considering challenge against Boswell

I heard it first from Bleeding Heartland user mirage, and now confirms that State Senator Brad Zaun is thinking about challenging Representative Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third Congressional district next year. Zaun was mayor of Urbandale, a heavily Republican suburb of Des Moines, before winning a hard-fought race in Iowa Senate district 32 in 2004. He was re-elected to a four-year term in 2008, so he wouldn’t risk losing his seat in the upper chamber by running against Boswell.

According to, Zaun will decide in the next few weeks whether to run:

Zaun said Boswell’s speaking out against cap-and-trade legislation this past summer but then voting for it concerned him and sparked his interest in a run for Congress.

“I’m frustrated because I think Leonard as well as so many other elected officials in Washington, D.C. don’t listen to their constituents and don’t represent where their constituents are on issues,” Zaun said. “Most elected officials in Washington, D.C. are out of touch with people they represent.”

Zaun is vice president of R&R Realty and has not yet formed an exploratory committee for the U.S. House. He said his biggest consideration on whether to run is his family. He and his wife have five kids ages 22, 21, 18, 13 and 11. “I’ve had long, long conversations with my wife,” he said.

Conservative and corporate-funded groups ran advertisements against Boswell this summer after he voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. also quoted Mike Mahaffey, a former chairman of the Iowa GOP, as saying “he’ll decide by next week whether he will run” against Boswell. He’s been thinking about the race for several months. Mahaffey was the Republican candidate in IA-03 the first time Boswell won the district in 1996. However, the district was quite different then and did not include Polk County.

Some political analysts, like Isaac Wood and Larry Sabato, consider IA-03 potentially competitive but give a strong advantage to the incumbent. CQ Politics is among the odds-makers who consider IA-03 a “safe Democratic” seat. I tend to agree that Boswell is not vulnerable in 2010. Republicans ran hard against him in 2002, 2004 and 2006 but came up short.

If this race did become competitive, I think a challenger with a strong base in Polk County, like Zaun, would stand a better chance than someone from one of the smaller counties in the district. Mahaffey is from Montezuma in Poweshiek County. But if Zaun doesn’t run, Mahaffey has the connections to put together a stronger campaign than the two currently declared candidates, Dave Funk and Pat Bertroche.

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