Zaun also will run against Boswell

Next spring, Iowa’s third Congressional district will see its first competitive Republican primary in some time. State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale told CQ Politics today that he plans to run against seven-term incumbent Representative Leonard Boswell. Zaun said he will formally announce his candidacy sometime after December 1.

Earlier today, The Iowa Republican blog reported that former Iowa State wrestling coach Jim Gibbons is quitting his job at Wells Fargo to run for Congress against Boswell. One of the previously announced candidates, Dave Funk of Runnells, indicated in this comment thread that he will stay in the race. Until this week, Funk and Pat Bertroche of Clive were the only confirmed Republican candidates against Boswell.

Zaun was just re-elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008, so he won’t have to give up his seat in the upper chamber if he loses the GOP primary or the general election.

CQ Politics suggested that with Gibbons and Zaun in the race, it may change its rating on this district from “safe Democratic.” I tend to agree with the statement that Gabby Adler of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent to CQ Politics:

“Each year Republicans claim they have Congressman Boswell in their sights, and each year they never live up to their own hype – there is no reason to believe this time will be any different,” Adler said.

As I’ve previously written, I do not consider Boswell an endangered incumbent this cycle. That said, the prospect of continuing job losses throughout 2010 could put many Democratic incumbents at risk.

What puzzles me is why so many Republicans are seeking this position. Even if a Republican beats Boswell, he is likely to be thrown into a 2012 primary against Tom Latham in a redrawn IA-03. Few people would choose a freshman over a nine-term incumbent with a seat on the House Appropriations Committee.  

  • Boswell has warded off the challengers

    But this may be the cycle that he does not come out on top.  The same reasoning that Adler uses in Boswell’s case could also have applied to Jim Leach and Neal Smith, both former congressmen.


    • Neal Smith's situation was totally different

      He was running in a dramatically different district from the one he had represented for most of his career. Although 1992 was the first post-redistricting election, the Poppy Bush recession shielded many incumbent Democrats from the impact of redistricting until 1994.

      Smith lost Story County and I think Jasper County as well, and picked up a bunch of SW Iowa counties he had never represented. If he had had Story County in his district, he never would have lost to Ganske.

      Jim Leach survived a demographically difficult district because he was an unusually moderate Republican. However, Boswell is not out of step with the partisan lean of this district (D+1) the way Leach was out of step with his D+7 district.

  • is "this time it is different" overused?.....

    One really has to step back, and examine Zaun…an unusually popular candidate who in past elections has had broad appeal to republicans, independents, and democrats as well.  

    Zaun, never favored in any of his previously contested elections, has a tested campaign theme and record that is enviable. Never has he faced an easy competitor, whether for council, mayor, or senate and yet he may set the standard for effective election strategy and is known for running a first class, positive campaign.

    Zaun’s ag delership and small business background is strong, just as his leadership of Urbandale with 8 straight record years of growth with the lowest taxes in the metro area is well known. His record to strengthen meth laws, expand educational access, and and his fight for fiscal responsiblity in the state senate led to his election as assistant minority leader.

    Even the most callous of democrat operatives would agree, Zaun has tough campaign experience, and a resume and background that will give Boswell fits this time around.

    It would be a mistake to underestimate Zaun, one of the strongest campaigners and candidates I have ever witnessed.

    • in the interests of disclosure

      Are you going to be working for the Zaun campaign in any capacity?

      In which elections was Zaun not favored? Urbandale is pretty strong Republican territory. Democrats knew it was not going to be easy for Laura Sands in that 2004 race.

  • well...i am related to some former county officials......

    …as my parents were actively involved in Iowa party work (county chair and treasurer…), but sadly my employment prevents me from working for any campaign….(thanks to Mom and Dad for that political education along the way…..)

    If you remember (and this is from a fading memory)…I think in the senate election the district (which covers a lot of DSM NW territory) was relatively even registrations, or slightly leaning democratic at the time)…

    Sands was hugely funded by the democratic party, the Conlin connections, DAWN and unions to the tune of nearly $600,000…a HUGE and record warchest during that election, and of course received the endorsement of the Register…yet was soundly defeated….I would have to look but of 6 contested seats he might of been the only republican to win that year….

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