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Iowa’s 2012 Shuffle: Five Members, Four Seats

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Rep. Leonard Boswell says he’ll run for re-election no matter how his district is changed in redistricting. The Iowa Democrat won’t speculate on how the process will shake out.

In a high-stakes game of musical chairs, all five members of Iowa’s House delegation plan to run for re-election in 2012, but the Hawkeye State will send only four of them to Congress following the next election. Reapportionment from the 2010 Census translates to a one-seat loss for Iowa, which means someone will be the odd Member out.

Rep. Leonard Boswell, the oldest member of Iowa’s House delegation by 14 years, was thought to be considering retirement, making it easier for the other Members. But Boswell told Roll Call he will seek re-election, saying that preparing to run in a not-yet-drawn district is no different from his previous races.

National Republicans have frequently targeted the Des Moines-area Democrat since he was elected to the House in 1996, one reason he is preparing early — Boswell declared on election night that he would be on the ballot in 2012.

“We could speculate ’til the sun goes down, and it’d be all speculation, so I’ll just wait and see,” he said in an interview Wednesday before being sworn in for an eighth term. “I just keep doing what I do. We work our tail off to do good constituent service, being available to people, continue to work on whatever’s out there that their concern is, keep a lot of face time with them.”

Though all five Iowa incumbents survived 2010 in good shape, 2012 may bring their toughest test yet. Members have no influence over the state’s nonpartisan redistricting process and won’t have the option of running for Senate or governor since those offices won’t be up for election until 2014.

Any of the Members could end up in a primary or general election against another incumbent. The two Republicans, Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King, can expect a boost from presidential contenders coming to the heartland for the first-in-the-nation caucus.

Boswell and Latham, who is the second-oldest member of the delegation, are the only two Members who have gone through Congressional redistricting before. Though Iowa retained all five of its seats in the previous round of redistricting, population shifts changed the lines and prompted moves in the delegation. After the lines were redrawn in 2001, Boswell moved to Des Moines to represent the district Rep. Greg Ganske (R) left behind when he ran for Senate. Latham went from representing a district in the northwest corner of the state to his roughly triangular district in northern and central Iowa. Latham said he’s disappointed the state is losing a seat but optimistic about the redistricting process.

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