Iowa voters sent Congressman Leonard Boswell into retirement Tuesday and reelected Iowa’s other four congressmen.
Republican Congressman Tom Latham faced incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell after Iowa lost one of its five seat in redistricting. Latham told Radio Iowa he won by campaigning on his experience.
“Because we focused I think on the issues …you know you’ve got two incumbents that have voting records for people to compare. We didn’t do personal attacks, but we talked about the issues, the differences that we have,” Latham said. “And I think people will overwhelmingly — when the final numbers are in — show that they sided with us as far as the issues.”
Latham said he hopes President Obama is serious about working with congress. “I hope that he is serious about sitting down in a constructive way with congress to actually solve the problems, because they are enormous with our debt, with the annual deficits, with the fiscal cliff that we are looking at at the end of the year, the uncertainty that’s in the economy today which is stopping job growth,” Latham said.
“We are going to have to pull together. We’re going to have to, like I said, put people before politics and progress before partisanship.”
Boswell’s long career in politics came to an end with his loss to Latham. The 78-year-old Boswell won his seat in congress in 1996 after previously serving three terms in the Iowa Senate.
“It’s been my honor, my privilege and my thanksgiving to get to live amongst you and serve you for these many, many years,” Boswell told Iowa Democrats gathered in Des Moines.
Boswell operates a farm in Davis City that has been in his family for several generations. He and his wife Dody were married in 1956 and have three children.
“I can’t thank you enough and I can’t thank my wife enough for being right there beside me,” Boswell said to cheers from the crowd.
Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, won a sixth term last night.
“We put together a campaign that reflected Iowa values and the record I have in congress is clear,” King told Radio Iowa, “and I made that clear.”
For the first time since his first congressional campaign in 2002, King debates his Democratic opponent, Christie Vilsack.
“Even though the press didn’t report who was winning those debates, the people that went to them were out talking with each other and it went through the grapevine and I think that all added up, that and a really wonderful volunteer effort,” King said. “And the fundraising that we had came from Iowa and hers came from outside Iowa and all of that makes a difference.”
Vilsack, who was Iowa’s first lady for eight years, declined to do media interviews after the results of the race were known. Sam Roecker, a spokesman for the Vilsack campaign, spoke with Radio Iowa at about midnight.
“Christie is really proud of the race that she ran, as am I,” Roecker said.
Getting King to debate was a victory for democracy, according to Roecker.
“We were running in a district with a Republican advantage, but we kept things close,” Roecker said. “We kept it competitive and I don’t think there is anything that we would change about how we ran this race.”
Iowa’s other two congressmen, both Democrats from eastern Iowa, won reelection. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, was reelected to a fourth term.
“I think that this result was due to an incredible amount of hard work by people who were very dedicated to electing someone who has a proven ability to work across party lines,” Braley told Radio Iowa, “and is going to bring mature leadership to his job in congress.”
Braley said every race is tough, but this year’s victory is “very rewarding.”
“We took this race very seriously from the beginning,” Braley said. “We knew there were going to be a lot of dynamics with 20 counties, 11,000 square miles and 400,000 new constituents.”
Republican challenger Ben Lange of Independence was making a second attempt to unseat Braley.
“I called Congressman Braley and congratulated him on a hard-fought campaign,” Lange told Radio Iowa. “Obviously he is again elected to the United States Congress and I wished him well and wanted him to know that I meant it.”
Lange credited what he calls “The Obama Machine” for racking up a huge early vote tally for Democrats up and down the ticket, including Braley.
“They did one heck of a job on early voting, getting their supporters out to the polls,” Lange told Radio Iowa. “I think it’s going to be call to action to the Republican Party out there, that if we’re going to compete in eastern Iowa, we have to realize that early voting starts in September and we have to make sure that we ‘ve got to make sure we get our supporters out there and play on a level playing field.”
Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, was reelected to a fourth term as well.
“I’m certainly happy with this win, but it’s really a question of now of getting back to work and going back to Washington, D.C and doing what I’ve been doing the last six years and trying to reach across the aisle as best as I can to make sure that we solve the issues of the day, the problems that are facing this country and getting people back to work,” Loebsack told Radio Iowa.
Loebsack moved to Iowa City to run in the new second district.
“This was probably the most challenging since my first election, since 46 percent of the district is new, but I’m very happy that I won Scott County by over nine percent, so I feel very good about that,” Loebsack said.
Loebsack’s Republican opponent, John Archer, is from Bettendorf, which is in Scott County. Archer spoke at an Election Night party in the Quad Cities, but he did not do other media interviews. In a written statement, Archer said he was proud of the campaign his team ran, and hopes Loebsack keeps the promises he made during the campaign to work to end the gridlock in Washington.
AUDIO: Tom Latham election night speech. 4:10
(Additional reporting from Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson, Pat Curtis and Todd Kimm)