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November 5th, 2009

Iowa Republicans Targeting Leonard Boswell?

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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boswell13About a week ago, CQ Politics downgraded its rating for Iowa’s third congressional district race from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic. The reason for the switch in the rating is because CQ Politics believes Iowa Republicans have failed to put forth a strong opponent against Democrat incumbent Leonard Boswell.

“The Republicans would have a good shot at defeating seven-term Rep. Boswell if they fielded a strong candidate. They last did that in 2006, a generally terrible year for the GOP nationally, when state Sen. Jeff Lamberti held Boswell to 52 percent, his lowest re-election vote share ever.

But in 2008, against a little-known and underfunded Republican, Boswell won more convincingly. His 56 percent wasn’t exactly a landslide, but it wasn’t bad for a traditional swing district — which includes Democratic-leaning Des Moines along with more conservative rural areas — where the congressman outran presidential nominee Barack Obama by 2 points.”

Currently, there are two relatively unknown candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the third district – retired airline pilot Dave Funk and psychiatrist Pat Bertroche. Funk launched his campaign in August with a fundraiser featuring fifth district Congressman Steve King. Bertroche has invited activists to meet him in various parts of the district.

Funk would have a clear advantage in a contest between himself and Bertroche, but a quick look at Funk’s October quarterly fundraising numbers shows why CQ Politics has downgraded the race. In his first fundraising quarter, Funk raised just over $16,000 and had $10,000 in expenses. Funk currently has $6,226.27 cash on hand compared to Congressman Leonard Boswell’s $343,215.23.

Funk is a good guy with an interesting background and history of being involved in Republican politics in central Iowa. Unfortunately for Funk, those positive attributes have not been enough to get his campaign off the ground. This has caused some Republicans to continue to look for a top-notch candidate to take on Congressman Boswell.

One name mentioned is State Senator Brad Zaun. Zaun is extremely likable and known in parts of Polk County. Zaun, the former Mayor of Urbandale, won his State Senate seat in 2004 when he defeated Democrat Laura Sands with 57% of the vote. While Zaun won big on Election Day, over $578,000 was spent by both candidates in trying to win that senate seat. Sands out-raised Zaun by over $166,000.

A Zaun candidacy for Congress may also have to overcome a few major obstacles itself. First, Zaun is one of the Republican state senators who has been tasked to recruit candidates. In a year when 19 of the 25 seats that are up for election are under Democratic control, this is no easy task. Also, if Zaun runs for Congress, it means one less incumbent raising money and mentoring new candidates, something Republicans in the senate desperately need him to do.

Zaun is also not a prolific fundraiser. While he needed to raise significant funds to win his senate seat, it’s not a task that he necessarily enjoyed. While Zaun would bring more donor contacts than the current candidates in the race, it would probably be difficult for him to raise the million plus dollars that it will take to run a competitive race against Congressman Boswell.

While some might think that Iowa Republicans are destined to only recruit token opposition against Boswell, has heard rumors that a well known, top-rate recruit will announce before the year ends. can also confirm that the recruit is not Senator Zaun.

A top-notch candidate with the ability to raise significant amounts of money would elevate the 3rd District Congressional race to a point where it could be targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee next fall. If that were to occur, not only would Republicans have a chance at picking up the seat, but it could also help in the statewide U.S. Senate and gubernatorial campaigns, as well as local down-ballot contests.

Still, some observers believe it would be an awful lot to invest in a seat that might not exist after redistricting in 2012. Many believe there is a strong likelihood that Congressman Latham’s district could include Polk County after redistricting. While that may very well be the case, nobody necessarily knows what Congressman Latham intends to do if such a scenario occurs.

If re-elected next year, Latham will be 64 at the end of his ninth term. While he could easily continue to represent a central Iowa district even if it includes Polk County, he could also have eyes for Tom Harkin’s senate seat in 2014. Being a sitting congressman and running for statewide office is no easy task. It’s difficult to find the time to travel the state and raise money when you are required to be in Washington D.C. to cast votes. Retiring from the United State House would allow him two full years to campaign for the United States Senate.

Needless to say, talking about Congressman Latham running for US Senate in 2014 is a little premature. However, with the current environment and Congressman Boswell being forced to support Speaker Pelosi’s radical agenda, Iowa Republicans would be wise to recruit the best possible candidate to run against Boswell. My sources tell me they are about to do just that.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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