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Election Profile: Iowa's 3rd Congressional District (2008)

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The fifth profile in the series is Iowa's 3rd Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Leonard L. Boswell (6-term incumbent)
Republican: Kim Schmett
Socialist Workers: Frank V. Forrestal

District Geography:

Iowa's 3rd Congressional District comprises twelve counties in central Iowa: Benton, Grundy, Iowa, Jasper, Keokuk, Lucas, Mahaska, Marion, Monroe, Polk, Poweshiek, and Tama.

History:
Six-term Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell is one of three fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats from the Upper Midwest in the U.S. House.

Boswell earned a seat in the House of Representatives in 1996 when he won a close open-seat race against Republican Mike Mahaffey by 1.8 points. This broke the Republican monopoly of the Iowan congressional delegation - all of the state's five congressional seats were held by Republicans in 1994. Boswell was the only Democrat to have won a House race in Iowa from 1996 through 2004: he won convincingly in 1998 (15.8 points) and 2000 (29.1 points), but had a closer call against Republican nominee Stan Thompson in 2002 - winning by just 8.4 points. Boswell won a rematch against Thompson by 10.5 points in 2004 and defeated Jeff Lamberti by 5.3 points in 2006.

Boswell - a Vietnam War veteran and farmer - is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Republican Kim Schmett, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, is an attorney, former chief administrative law judge, former Director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, and former executive director for the Coalition for Family and Children's Services in Iowa. Schmett is running on a platform of ensuring good jobs in a competitive international economy, keeping America free and safe, and maintaining a quality life for all Americans especially the elderly and most vulnerable.

Also on the ballot is Socialist Workers Party candidate Frank V. Forrestal.

Outlook:
Boswell had to fend off a primary challenge in 2008 - defeating Ed Fallon by 20 points - and has emerged victorious in three straight fairly competitive general election matchups. The 3rd District split its presidential vote 50-50 in 2004 and will likely lean Obama in 2008.

Having captured and held the 3rd Congressional District during the height of the Republican Party's popularity in the Hawkeye State in the mid- and late 1990s, Boswell will do his part in the current Democratic-friendly political environment to insure Iowa will send a Democratic majority-led congressional delegation back to D.C. for a second consecutive session.

Previous post: Election Profile: Iowa's 2nd Congressional District (2008)
Next post: Election Profile: Iowa's 4th Congressional District (2008)

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