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April 15th, 2010

Endangered Species: Blue Dog Leonard Boswell

Leonard BoswellIowa Democrats insist that Congressman Leonard Boswell isn’t in trouble. Last week, Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland was in Des Moines to raise money for Boswell’s campaign. Van Hollen isn’t just a friend and colleague of Boswell, he’s the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

In a Des Moines Register interview, Van Hollen said, “We’re taking nothing for granted in this race, but we do not see it as one of the most competitive seats in the country, not by a long shot.”

Party leaders don’t spend their days traveling across the country to raise money for incumbents who aren’t in trouble. The mere fact that Van Hollen came to Des Moines is proof that even Democrat party leaders are concerned about the 76-year-old, seven-term incumbent.

If you need further proof that Boswell is in trouble, just look at his recent fundraising numbers. In his year-end report, Boswell raised $169,621, but one of his potential Republican opponents, Jim Gibbons, raised $207,310. Being outraised in by a Republican candidate who had only been in the race for six weeks was embarrassing, but Iowa Democrats assured us that Boswell was going to put up a big fundraising total in the first quarter, which concluded at the end of March.

Boswell’s report is up, and it shows that he raised $166,630.52, just over $5000 more than the $161,000 Gibbons raised this quarter. While the fundraising numbers between Gibbons and Boswell are surprisingly similarly, how each candidate raised their funds couldn’t be more different.

For the most part, Gibbons has raised most of his money from individuals, while Boswell has had to rely on PAC contributions. Of the $166,000 he raised, $96,500.00 was from PACs. Boswell takes thousands of dollars from PACs like the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-op, the National Cotton Council Committee, and Florida Sugar Cane League PAC.

But the real sign that Boswell is in trouble is that his colleagues are beginning to send him money. Congressman Jim Clyburn is in for $6,000, Congressman Sandy Levin sent $3,000, Congressman Marion Berry contributed $2,000, and Congressman Richard Neal gave $1,000.

Members of Congress don’t send contributions to their colleagues unless they really need it. The fact that Boswell is in trouble months before the Republican primary is settled is stunning. This is the time when Boswell should be able to use the power of his office to insulate himself from the formidable challenge his is sure to face this fall. Unfortunately for Boswell, he doesn’t have that luxury.

Boswell has proved to be very vulnerable in recent elections. In 2002, Stan Thompson garnered 45% of the vote, and Jeff Lamberti got 46% in a Democratic year of 2006.

There might not be a better chance for Republicans to unseat a sitting Democrat Congressman in Iowa than Leonard Boswell this year.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.

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