Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham (R) will forego a primary race against Rep. Steve King (R) in the newly drawn 4th district and will instead travel south to challenge Rep. Leonard Boswell in the 3rd, the first of many redistricting-forced incumbent versus incumbent matchups in the 2012 election.
“I have never let map boundaries block the great honor I have felt in representing the interests of all Iowans in the United States Congress,” said Latham in a statement released by his office this morning.
Latham was first elected to the House in 1994 and has held the west-central Iowa seat relatively easily since then despite the fact that President Obama carried it by eight points in 2008.
With the Hawkeye State needing to lose a district due to slower than average population growth, a non-partisan redistricting panel drew a map that put Latham and King in a large western Iowa seat where the conservative King would have had a clear primary edge.
Instead of running into the King buzz saw, Latham will move southward and take on Boswell, who has represented a more Des Moines-centric district for the past decade. Boswell’s new district includes three counties that Latham currently represents.
Des Moines-based Polk County is the only area that will be the same between Boswell’s old district and his new one, but by virtue of Polk’s size, the district is still mostly Boswell territory. In fact, Boswell’s current constituents outnumber Latham’s by more than three-to-one.
And Boswell, who is 77 years old, made clear he isn’t backing down from Latham (or anyone else).
“I live in Polk County, in the capital city,” Boswell told the Hill newspaper. “That’s my base, and whatever gets attached to it, so be it. But I’m not going anywhere.”
The battle between Boswell and Latham will be the marquee contest of what could be a very busy year in Iowa congressional politics.
Both men have shown an ability to run and win in competitive districts in the past, and the new 3rd district looks to be drawn to be quite competitive between the two parties. Gov. Terry Branstad (R) would have carried the district with 52 percent in his successful 2010 campaign, while Obama would have won the seat with 52 percent back in 2008.
Latham starts out with the clear financial edge. Boswell ended March with $174,0000 in the bank after raising $147,000 in the first three months of the year. Latham raised $414,000 in the first fundraising quarter and ended last month with $984,000 in the bank.