The 2012 race pitting Republican Congressman Tom Latham against Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell is already billed as one of the nation’s marquee contests. 

The new congressional district lines were approved at the statehouse in mid-April. Latham quickly announced in a written statement that he would move into the new third congressional district rather than stay in Ames and face a race against Congressman Steve King, a fellow Republican who lives in the new fourth district.

“You know, I just believe for the future of the country that it’s extremely important that we get our fiscal house in order and for two of us to go against each other that have that as a goal I thought was not productive,” Latham told reporters today in Ames.

Latham and King had personal discussions about how to “work our way through” being paired in the same district, according to Latham. “I’m not going to get into personal conversations with somebody else, but I’m excited about where I’m going to be running and the opportunities that are there and I feel very, very good about it,” Latham said. “We’re going to work our tails off.  We’ll be out everywhere.”

Latham is preparing for a tough race against Boswell, who’s successful campaign for reelection in 2010 included a barrage of negative ads against his Republican opponent.

“There’s going to be a lot of accusations that are not founded in fact and, you know, we’re going to run a very positive campaign, but I’m not going to go let charges not be responded to, certainly.  That’s very, very important,” Latham said. “But I want to run for congress, not against anybody.” 

According to Latham, he and Boswell have had a working relationship for more than a decade as they collaborated with the rest of Iowa’s congressional delegate to advance issues that specifically impacted Iowa.

“When I made my decision, I went to him personally and said, ‘Leonard, I wish we’d never had to have this conversation, but the way it stacks up I’m going to be running in the third district,'” Latham said. “He understood and we’re still friends.”

Latham has represented 36 of the 39 counties in the new fourth congressional district since 2003.  Three of the counties in the new third district have been in his current district, too.  The new third district includes both Des Moines and its western suburbs as well as Council Bluffs. The 16 counties in the district encompass most of the southwest quadrant of the state. 

“I’ve worked with the people in Polk County, throughout central Iowa, for years and years, so it’s a really good fit for me,” Latham said of the new district.

He and his wife will most likely find a new home in Polk County.

“Two of my grandkids live in Polk County and so we’ll actually be even closer, so that’ll be great,” Latham said.  Latham and his wife currently live on the southwest side of Ames, about 45 minutes away from their daughter’s home — where the grandchildren live.

Latham won reelection in 2010 with 66 percent of the vote.  Latham said the new third district actually has more Republicans than the old fourth he currently represents.  Latham was first elected to congress in 1994.