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Biography Leonard Boswell

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Leonard Boswell Leonard Boswell
Leonard Boswell
Former U.S. Representative for Iowa's 3rd congressional district, serving from 1997 to 2013 - member of the Democratic Party.


Leonard Boswell Biography

ENG: Leonard L. Boswell (born January 10, 1934) is a former U.S. Representative for Iowa's 3rd congressional district, serving from 1997 to 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is based in Des Moines.

On November 6, 2012, Boswell was defeated for re-election by 4th District Incumbent Tom Latham, who decided to run against him after redistricting. Boswell left Congress in January 2013.


Early life, education and career

Boswell was born in Harrison County, Missouri, the son of Margaret and Melvin Boswell. He was educated at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa.

Boswell spent twenty years in the United States Army. He was first drafted in the Army in 1956 as a private. He later graduated from Artillery Officers Candidate School, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his military career he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, the Soldier's Medal, and various other awards and decorations. He served two one-year tours of duty as an assault helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He also served two NATO tours of duty in Europe, first for four years in Germany, and later three years in Portugal. Additionally, he taught at the Army Command and General Staff College.


Early political career

Boswell was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1984, and served three terms in that body. In 1986, he ran for the United States House of Representatives, but was narrowly defeated in the Democratic primary. He was President of the Iowa Senate from 1993 to 1996. He was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Iowa in 1994, as Bonnie Campbell's running mate.


Political campaigns

Boswell won the Democratic nomination for the 3rd District after 12-year Republican incumbent Jim Ross Lightfoot made an unsuccessful run for the United States Senate. He defeated Poweshiek County Attorney Mike Mahaffey by just over 4,000 votes. He was likely helped by Bill Clinton carrying the district, as well as the endorsement of the normally Republican-leaning Iowa Farm Bureau. He was handily reelected in 1998 and 2000. During his 2nd term, Boswell pledged to serve no more than 8 years. By 2004 he had reversed that pledge, stating that "A thinking person is allowed to change their mind."

For his first three terms, Boswell represented a sprawling district that stretched from the Illinois border almost to the Nebraska border. However, his district was dismantled in the 2000s round of redistricting (even though Iowa didn't lose any seats), and its territory was split among three other districts. Boswell's home was shifted to the heavily Republican 5th District. Rather than face almost certain defeat, Boswell moved to Des Moines in the newly created 3rd District—thus making him technically the successor to Greg Ganske, who represented a Des Moines-based district from 1995 to 2003 and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Boswell had a non-cancerous tumor removed from his stomach in 2005. The surgery and resulting recovery period caused him to be the most-absent member of Congress for the year. Rumors circulated that Democrats were looking to replace him on the ballot for 2006's Congressional race against Iowa GOP Senate leader Jeff Lamberti, but Boswell's return to work and apparent good health have put an end to the speculation. He was reelected to his 7th term on November 4, 2008.

In 2012, Boswell will be running against fourth district Republican Congress member Tom Latham in the recently redrawn third Congressional District. Talking about his re-election campaign, Boswell quipped, "I'm running against Tom Latham, I think I'm running against Boehner, and there's this guy called Karl Rove." Politico described the forthcoming race between Boswell and Tom Latham, both incumbents will be facing off against each other as a result of redistricting, as one of ten bellwether races. At the end of the first quarter of 2012, Boswell trailed Latham substantially in both fundraising and cash on hand.


2010, 2012

After redistricting pitted Boswell against fellow Congressman Republican, Tom Latham, Boswell lost, 52.4% to 43.7%.


Personal life

Boswell is a member of the Community of Christ. He has been married to Dody Boswell since 1956; they have three children. Boswell operates a farm in Davis City that has been in his family for several generations. He was a member of the board of directors for the Decatur County farmer's cooperative from 1979 to 1993, serving for most of that time as president.

In July 2011, Boswell and his family were the victims of a home invasion. At about 10:45 p.m. on July 16, an armed man came through the front door of Boswell's Iowa farm house, attacked his daughter, Cindy Brown, and demanded money. The Congressman struggled with the man until his grandson, Mitchell Brown, aimed a shotgun at the intruder, at which point the intruder fled the house into the surrounding fields.





February 13, 2013

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