The race in Iowa’s third district between incumbent Congressmen Leonard Boswell and Tom Latham may be among the nation’s most watched — and most expensive. 

Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Clive is already running campaign ads in Iowa. Yesterday House Speaker John Boehner held a campaign fundraiser for Latham in the Des Moines area; it was for donors only and closed to the public. Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell of Des Moines says it’s “no secret” Latham will have “plenty of money” for the campaign.

“He’s a close friend of the speaker and that’s going to help him and he’s also, apparently, a close friend of Karl Rove at Crossroads America who seem to have endless pockets to raise money,” Boswell says, “and they’ve spent a lot already.”

Rove, a key aide to former President George W. Bush, is managing a so-called “Super PAC” called American Crossroads, connected to a sister organization called Crossroads GPS. Earlier this year a “Super PAC” allied with Democrats ran several hundred thousand dollars worth of ads in Iowa critical of Latham and his friend the House speaker. Latham, by the way, dismisses Boswell’s barb about fundraising.

“Probably an excuse on his part that he hasn’t been able to generate the level of support that we have,” Latham says.

According to the latest campaign disclosure report, Boswell’s campaign had about $300,000 in cash on March 16. Latham had about $2 million in his campaign account by mid-May.

“We have thousands of donors from Iowa. Over the years, that is where my base of support is — right here,” Latham says. “I’m pleased that we have attracted a lot of support from a lot of different quarters.”

It’s unusual to have two incumbent congressman running against one another and both will have the voting record of the other to cite as the campaign runs its course. Boswell has been in congress since 1997.

“You’re going to see some real contrasts and so folks will have to look at it, they’ll have to listen to the debate and decide what they want,” Boswell says. “It’ll be just that straight forward.”

Latham has been in congress since 1995.

“Mr. Boswell has voted for the Wall Street bank bail-out, for the failed stimulus package, for cap and trade, for the president’s health care bill, for Dodd-Frank which is going to reallly put bind on a lot of our small town banks,” Latham says. Boswell says he stands by those votes.

The new third district stretches from Des Moines to Council Bluffs and includes the southwest Iowa cities of Clarinda, Shenandoah, Creston, Winterset and Atlantic.

(Additional reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)