In most election years, Labor Day is deemed by the media as the official start of the fall campaign leading up to Election Day. With the media now focused on politics, any campaign that slips up now is going to inflict more damage on their campaign than if it had happened a few weeks ago.
For the most part, the summer campaign season was relatively quiet. The Branstad campaign continues to go about its business, while Governor Culver has yet to catch a break. The state legislative races, which are critically important, have hardly made any news over the summer months. Yet there is one race in Iowa that has seen a lot of activity – the race between Brad Zaun and Congressman Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.
Boswell and the Iowa Democratic Party have been attacking Zaun for almost a month now. Seeing an incumbent go after a challenger so aggressively out of the gate has raised a lot of eyebrows in central Iowa. However, after seeing a third-party poll that showed Zaun up ten points, it became obvious why Boswell felt the need to attack his opponent early and often.
Another reason why Boswell and Iowa Democrats went after Zaun early is because they are trying to keep the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) interested in the race. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has begun to assemble a political triage unit to help Democrats retain their majority in the House.
The Times reported, “In the next two weeks, Democratic leaders will review new polls and other data that show whether vulnerable incumbents have a path to victory. If not, the party is poised to redirect money to concentrate on trying to protect up to two dozen lawmakers who appear to be in the strongest position to fend off their challengers.”
The DCCC polled Iowa’s 3rd District last week, and Boswell is hoping that his early attacks on Zaun will help him be one of the incumbents that Speaker Pelosi tries to save. If Pelosi follows through on her plan to only invest in races where incumbent Democrats can win, Boswell will be in danger of missing the cut.
Boswell and the Democrats have had the airwaves to themselves for the past month, but that is going to change this week.
Sources tell TheIowaRepublican.com that Zaun is scheduled to hit the airwaves with a radio ad on Wednesday and is expected to go up with a TV ad shortly. Zaun’s radio ad, which you can listen to by clicking here, goes after Boswell for saying that the nation is on the right path, a story reported by the Des Moines Register. He also hits Boswell for the high unemployment rates in his 60-second spot.
With Zaun now on the air, Boswell will be forced to defend his record instead of just throwing mud at his opponent. With voters not thinking very highly of the Democrats’ “accomplishments,” weak incumbents have chosen to trash their opponents rather than tout their own records. With Zaun on the offensive, Boswell will be forced to talk about his record.
Boswell’s hopes to be bailed out by Pelosi and the DCCC could be also complicated by redistricting and his age. National Democrats could choose to invest in other races around the country where they have a younger incumbent who could hold on to a seat for the foreseeable future. With Boswell facing a tough re-election, and redistricting in two years with either Congressman Latham or Congressman Loebsack, the DCCC and the Speaker may decide to hasten his retirement rather than waste scarce resources on a seat that will be lost in two years anyway.
If they begin to pump money into the race to save Boswell, it may foreshadow just how bad things are going to be for Pelosi in November.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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