Iowa Dem ready for tough redistricting fight: 'I'm not going anywhere'

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) says he's ready for whatever congressional redistricting in his state in 2012 might bring, even if it's a general-election match with Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa).

"For me it's simple and I decided this before the [redistricting] process even started," Boswell told The Ballot Box. "I live in Polk County, in the capital city. That's my base, and whatever gets attached to it, so be it. But I'm not going anywhere."

State lawmakers in Iowa put their final stamp of approval on a redistricting plan Thursday that pairs two sets of incumbent congressmen in 2012, making at least one incumbent-vs.-incumbent match-up inevitable next year. Iowa is losing a congressional seat ahead of 2012.

The map pairs Republican Reps. Latham and Steve King, as well as Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley and David Loebsack, who has already indicated that he's likely to move out of the district to avoid a primary fight with his fellow Democrat.

The proposed map easily won approval Thursday in both the Iowa state House and Senate, sending it to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who has veto power over the plan. Most observers expect he will sign it into law. 

The most likely option for the two Republicans, according to GOP sources in the state, is that Latham makes a move into Boswell's district next year to prevent an intra-party primary battle with King.

Republicans in the state see a Latham-Boswell battle as very winnable for the GOP, but after prevailing in a contested race in 2010, Boswell is guaranteeing Latham or King a tough fight if either decides to move into his district.

"I would just say that I've had a tough race every time and that's what I expect," said Boswell, adding that his new district will have "half the counties I've served before anyway."

"The one thing [Latham] would have to think about, or even King for that matter, if he were to move south, is that if you're going to represent the capital city, you better be ready for a tough competition every year," Boswell said. "So they'll have to really think about that. Whereas if one of them wins that new 4th district, they could probably coast a little bit by comparison."  

Neither Republican has made any final decisions about 2012 just yet, but Republicans are admittedly anxious to avoid a primary fight.

"No incumbent likes redistricting," King said on Tuesday, adding that the only ones who want to see a King-Latham primary battle are Iowa Democrats. "Any other scenario would be preferable to almost every Republican."    

On Thursday, King said he would wait until Branstad signs the plan into law before commenting on his 2012 plans. King indicated earlier in the week that he would make a quick decision on how to move forward once the plan became law.

"If you can produce an answer immediately upon knowing what the map is going to be, that's the best way to go," he said. "Get the answer out there and get on with whatever it is you have to do."

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