A Republican state senator from the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale plans to run for the third district congressional seat currently held by Democrat Leonard Boswell. Brad Zaun has filed the paperwork necessary to begin raising money for his race and will formally announce his candidacy on Monday.
“I just don’t believe that Leonard Boswell listens or acts where the people he represents,” Zaun says. “And I just think that it’s been very frustrating for me and I just can’t stay silent anymore and it’s time for me to stand up and I think that I’m frustrated with most of the elected officials in Washington, D.C. because they don’t listen.”
Two other Republicans have announced they, too, will run for the seat. That sets up a three-way primary in June with Zaun, retired pilot Dave Funk of Runnells and former I.S.U. wrestling coach Jim Gibbons competing for the Republican nomination and the chance to challenge Boswell next November.
“I believe with my background of owning a hardware store for several years, as a small businessman, as a council member, as a mayor, as a state senator — I have the best chance of beating Leonard Boswell,” Zaun says. “And my focus is Leonard Boswell, not the other good people who are in this race already.”
Zaun says Boswell’s vote for health care reform will be a key campaign issue because Des Moines is a major hub for the insurance industry.
“I don’t know how a congressman who represents the second-largest insurance capitol of the United States could vote which would ultimately, if this is passed, displace thousands of his constituents,” Zaun says. “And they’d be out of work.”
Boswell was first elected to congress in 1996 and Boswell has indicated he plans to seek an eighth term in 2010. Boswell was not among the congressional Democrats targeted, nationally, by the G-O-P in 2008, but Zaun says he’s been assured the National Republican Congressional Committee will invest money to defeat Boswell in 2010.
“They’ve told me that this is going to be a priority and this seat is going to be one of the top targeted seats,” Zaun says.
Zaun, who currently works for a commercial real estate company, was elected to a four-year term in the state senate in 2008, which means he does not have to give up his state senate seat to run for congress. Zaun says Washington is “a mess” and this is a good time to run for congress.
“Based on the ‘tea parties’ and the town hall meetings, everyone as a citizen is very frustrated about what is going on in Washington, D.C.,” Zaun says. “I think that of any time to run against an incumbent, this would probably be the most ideal time.”
Another Republican has said he is considering running for Iowa’s third district congressional seat, too. Mike Mahaffey, an attorney from Monticello, is a former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa who ran against Boswell in 1996 in a race that is the closest any Republican has come to defeating Boswell. Boswell won that contest 49 to 48 percent. Former Iowa Congressman Greg Ganske, a Republican from Des Moines, did not seek reelection in 1996, as he ran for the U.S. Senate instead.