Boswell acknowledges the battle he faces

The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont surmises that Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) faces his toughest reelection ever, and Boswell doesn't sound like he disagrees.

In a lengthy piece today, Beaumont and Boswell liken the congressman's situation to that of former Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa), a 36-year incumbent swept out in 1994, only to be replaced by another Democrat -- Boswell -- in 1996.

"I'm not suggesting I can do what he did, but he did a terrific job, and they let him go 16 years ago," Boswell said. "And I think I'm doing a reasonably good job. They may beat me someday, but it's not because I'm going to hand it to them."

Boswell said it would be a mistake for voters to get rid of a congressman they like just because of the national mood. But he faces a tough road.

Despite having the wind at his back in 2006, Boswell defeated state Sen. Jeff Lamberti by just six points. Then last year, against nominal and cash-poor competition, Boswell only outperformed President Obama in his district by two points, taking 56 percent of the vote (Obama took 54).

This year, he faces the prospect of a well-funded challenger in former Iowa State University wrestling coach Jim Gibbons.

Boswell hasn't taken more than 56 percent of the vote since 2000, and he's headed for another close one.