Leonard Boswell was elected to the U.S. House in 1996 with 49 percent of the vote against Republican Mike Mahaffey. Boswell was re-elected in 1998, receiving 57 percent of the vote in his race against Republican Larry McKibben.
He was elected to the state Senate in 1984, and was elected president of the Senate in 1992. He has won landslide victories _ he won in 1992 with more than 60 percent of the vote _ despite representing an overwhelmingly Republican legislative district. Boswell bases his appeal on his status as a prominent local farmer and businessman.
In 1994, Democrats worried the party was getting an image of having drifted too far to the left and Boswell was picked as the party's candidate for lieutenant governor to counter that image. He garnered only 43 percent of the vote, but Boswell campaigned widely, including much of the sprawling 27-county 3rd District.
When Republican Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot announced his bid for the U.S. Senate in 1996, Boswell decided to make a run for the open seat. He scored a 4,000-vote victory in the primary over Charles Krogmeier, a top official in the state Attorney General's office.
He was re-elected in 1998, 2000 and 2002.