Military Wiki
Leonard Boswell
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Jim Lightfoot
Succeeded by Tom Latham
Personal details
Born Leonard L. Boswell
January 10, 1934(1934-01-10) (age 88)
Harrison County, Missouri
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dody Boswell
Children 3
Residence Davis City, Iowa (1997-2002)
Des Moines, Iowa (2002-present)
Alma mater Graceland College
Occupation Farmer
Religion Community of Christ
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1956-1976
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Bronze Star (2)
Soldier's Medal

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Agriculture
    • Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry
  • Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
    • Subcommittee on Highways and Transit


In the 111th Congress, Boswell voted with Democratic leadership more often than 131 members, or 49%, of the Democratic Caucus.[3]


In a debate in 2012, Boswell said that he opposes an extension of the Bush tax cuts and supports tax increases for those with high incomes. Boswell criticized his opponent for signing a pledge not to raise taxes. Boswell said, “If you look at this trickle-down theory, I don’t see where that’s been a historical success." [4]

Health care

Boswell supported the Affordable Care Act. In a 2012 debate, Boswell defended his vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act. He said, "Obamacare … is actually working. I think the people out across Iowa as they talk to me about it, the parts of it that have really been important to them, they’re appreciative of.” [4]

Boswell authored H.R. 327, the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which was signed into law in 2007 and provides mental health services and support for veterans. Boswell voted to expand funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and voted twice to override the President's veto of SCHIP legislation. cap and trade legislation for carbon emissions, and h[5]


Boswell has voted to double Pell Grants and supported the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, providing the largest increase in college aid since the GI bill. He voted for the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.

Foreign Policy

On October 10, 2002, Boswell voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[6]

National security

In 2001 Boswell voted for the USA PATRIOT Act, and for its reauthorization in 2005. In 2008 he supported passing the FISA bill granting telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their involvement in warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. He sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi encouraging her not to fight the bill. He voted for the final House version of the bill once he was convinced it provided adequate protection for telecom companies.

Gun control

Boswell, a strong proponent of gun rights in a state that supports the issue, wrote an op-ed in the local Council Bluffs newspaper criticizing Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on the issue of gun rights, an issue supported by local Iowans.[7]

During Boswell's 2010 re-election campaign, his views on gun rights and armed self-defense earned him an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund, which endorsed him over his (also "A"-rated) Republican rival.[8]

Subsidies and stimulus spending

From 2003 through 2005, $14.7 billion in crop subsidies went to the congressional districts of members on the House Committee on Agriculture, an analysis by the non-partisan Environmental Working Group found. That was 42.4% of the total subsidies. Boswell is reported to have brought $404 million to his District.[9]

He has supported the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the 2009 stimulus bill. The Iowa Independent reported that the conservative group Crossroads GPS criticized Boswell's vote approving the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[10] The group, ran by Steven J. Law with ties to Karl Rove, has purchased $85,125 worth of TV time at KCCI, Des Moines local CBS channel targeting Boswell.[11] Six weeks later, Crossroads GPS invested another $150,000 to the campaign. The money will be used to create and air two commercials.[12]

Political campaigns

Boswell with Governor Mark Warner, 2006

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."[13]

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 put an end to the speculation. He was reelected to his 7th term on November 4, 2008.

After the 2010 census, Boswell's district was significantly redrawn. It now extended across the southwestern part of the state from Des Moines to Council Bluffs. He faced 4th District congressman Tom Latham in the 2012 election; Latham had been drawn into the same district as fellow Republican Steve King and opted to move to the 3rd.. 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." [14] Politico described the race between Boswell and Tom Latham, both incumbents faced off against each other as a result of redistricting, as one of ten bellwether races.[15] At the end of the first quarter of 2012, Boswell trailed Latham substantially in both fundraising and cash on hand.[16]



After redistricting pitted Boswell against fellow Congressman Republican, Tom Latham, Boswell lost, 52.4% to 43.7%.[17][18]

Electoral history

1996: Defeated Mike Mahaffey 49%-48%

1998: Defeated Larry McKibben 57%-41%

2000: Defeated Jay Marcus 63%-34%

2002: Defeated Stan Thompson 53%-45%

2004: Defeated Stan Thompson 55%-45%

2006: Defeated Jeff Lamberti 52%-46%

2008: Defeated Kim Schmett 56%-42%

2010: Defeated Brad Zaun & Rebecca Williamson 51%-46%-3%

2012: Lost to Tom Latham 52.3%-43.7% [18]

Personal life

Boswell and his wife Dody, 2006

Boswell is a member of the Community of Christ.[19] He has been married to Dody Boswell since 1956; they have three children.[20] 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.[21]


  2. "Once a Soldier... Always a Soldier". Legislative Agenda. Association of the United States Army. 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  3. "House Voting with Party Scores, 111th Congress". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 [1]
  5. [2][dead link]
  7. EMILY SCHULTHEIS (12/15/11). "Iowa Dem congressman blasts Romney on guns". Politico. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  8. "Project Vote Smart - National Rifle Association Rating". Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  9. Dilanian, Ken, " Billions go to House panel members' districts", USA Today. July 26, 2007.
  10. Andrew Duffelmeyer (10.27.11). "Crossroads uses local report to further attack Boswell". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  11. Andrew Duffelmeyer (10.25.11). "Crossroads buying ads in Des Moines". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  12. DAVID CATANESE (12/7/11). "Crossroads puts 'Pea-losi' in Boswell's pod". Politico. Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  13. Iowa Press transcript, Iowa Public Television, 09/24/2004
  14. O'Keefe, Ed (April 27, 2012). "Iowa's Leonard Boswell faces a GOP challenger aligned with Boehner". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  15. Andrew Duffelmeyer (10.12.11). "Politico: Iowa’s 3rd CD a bellwether race". The Iowa Independent. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  16. Jacobs, Jennifer (13 April 2012). "Latham raised nearly twice as much as Boswell in the 1st quarter". Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  18. 18.0 18.1
  19. Religion of U.S. Congress. Retrieved on 2010-07-12.
  20. CNN/AllPolitics Election '98. (1934-01-10). Retrieved on 2010-07-12.
  21. Iowa congressman, family safe after home invasion, Associated Press. July 17, 2011.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim R. Lightfoot
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Tom Latham

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).