Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
Iowa 3rd – Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) is seeking an 8th term
Primary: June 8, 2010
Location: Des Moines/Central Iowa
Days until Election Day: 94
Washington (CNN) - A popular target of Republicans looking to pick off a seat in the Midwest is Rep. Leonard Boswell, a seven-term Democrat who has had some close calls in recent election cycles. In 2008, he won re-election with 56 percent of the vote after outspending his opponent by almost 10 to 1. In 2006, when Democrats picked up 30 House seats and every House Democrat won re-election, Boswell eked out 52 percent of the vote against a state senator who nearly outspent him.
In Congress, Boswell is a reliable vote for the White House, supporting its position on key votes 97 percent of the time during Obama's first year in office, according to a CQ analysis. He voted in favor of his party's top policy priorities, including the Obama stimulus plan, health care bill, financial reform legislation, and the so-called "cap and trade" energy proposals.
This year, Boswell will face a different Republican state senator in the general election, Brad Zaun, who represents northwest Des Moines and previously served as the mayor of Urbandale. Zaun was significantly outraised and outspent during the primary by Jim Gibbons, the former Iowa State wrestling coach and Wells Fargo executive. Gibbons raised a total of $519,000 for the campaign, compared to $240,465 for Zaun. But in the end, Zaun prevailed over a crowded GOP field, winning 42 percent of the vote. Gibbons placed second with 28 percent.
Iowa's 3rd district is located in the heart of the state and includes the capital of Des Moines. It is the only district in Iowa that does not share a border with a neighboring state. Obama carried the district in 2008 with 54 percent of the vote, while McCain received 44 percent. President Bush narrowly won the district in 2004, besting Democrat John Kerry by a razor-thin margin of 267 votes. Though Obama and McCain each won six of the district's 12 counties, Obama won the band of more heavily populated counties that reaches from Polk County (which includes Des Moines) on the West to Iowa and Benton Counties on the East. McCain won the less populous counties that make up the southern half of the district as well as Grundy County which caps the region on the North.
The boundaries of this district were significantly redrawn after the 2000 census, and Boswell's vote percentages under the new lines have never approached the 63 percent high he reached in the 2000 election under the old lines. He enters the general election with a cash advantage, with $734,000 in the bank as of June 30, compared to $100,400 for Zaun. But in previous elections, healthy bank accounts did not inoculate Boswell from close races, even in Democratic landslide years like 2006. This midterm year, with history predicting a tough year for the president's party, Boswell will likely face another tough contest.