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In Land of White Meat, Race to Get Red Hot

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Leonard Boswell talks with Marilyn Tracey of Polk City, Iowa, a former classmate, at the Iowa Pork Producers Association pavilion at the Iowa State Fair.

Boswell's bid for a ninth term has been dogged by retirement rumors, even though the Congressman says there's "no question about" his re-election campaign. If he were to step aside, several Des Moines Democrats would be eager to take his place, or former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack could switch House races from her current campaign versus King in the GOP-leaning 4th district.

Back on Capitol Hill, the dynamic in the Iowa delegation changed with two Members running for the same seat.

Latham recalled when Boswell on
July 12 used the procedural floor tactic known as a motion to recommit on the Flood Insurance Reform Act. The bill would provide resources to Missouri River flood victims — many of whom live in the new 3rd district.

Members briefly debated the motion, forcing Latham and King to quickly decide whether to buck their own party to voice their support for the extra funds offered by Democrats. The motion failed, 181-244, with only three Republicans voting in favor of it: Latham, King and Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.). Boswell's office did not return a request for comment on the matter.

"I voted for the motion to recommit because the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] was all set to put out a press release that I'm not there to help flood victims on the Missouri River," he said. "It's very unfortunate, when you've got a serious disaster like that, people would play politics with that, but that's exactly what they were doing."

A Family Affair

The armed robbery attempt at his Lamoni, Iowa, family farm this summer wasn't the kind of publicity that Boswell was looking for this cycle. But fairgoers ask him about the incident — one diner even asks him whether it prompted him to revise his position on gun control.

"It's tailing off now, and I want it to. It's over, everything worked out OK. It's time to move on," Boswell said, his words punctuated by an uncomfortable silence.

On July 16, an armed intruder came into the home and physically assaulted Boswell's daughter, Cindy Brown. The Congressman, a Vietnam veteran, attempted to thwart the intruder on his own, but his grandson secured a shotgun that frightened the intruder away. Boswell sustained some scrapes and bruises during the incident.

His effort led local television news for several days and made headlines on national cable news networks. Boswell's wife, Dody, gave a local television crew a firsthand account of the incident in her home.

"We lock our house, but we just hadn't gotten around to it that night," the Congressman said. "Common sense, precaution, you know? A little reminder for everyone. Not a fun thing to be part of."

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