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Leonard Boswell

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 3rd district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1997
Preceded by Jim Lightfoot

Born January 10, 1934 (1934-01-10) (age 76)
Harrison County, Missouri
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dody Boswell
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 Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Bronze Star (2)
Soldier's Medal

Leonard L. Boswell (born January 10, 1934) has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1997, representing the 3rd District of Iowa (map). The district is based in Des Moines.

Boswell was born in Missouri, and was educated at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. He 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 numerous 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.

He 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.

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 1992 to 1996. He was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Iowa in 1994, as Bonnie Campbell's running mate.

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.

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). 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 has since been reelected three times from this district.

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.

Boswell was reelected to his 7th term on November 4, 2008.

Boswell is a member of the Community of Christ.[1] He has been married to Dody Boswell since 1956; they have three children.[2]


Voting record

Boswell is considered a moderate Democrat. He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.

In the 110th Congress, Boswell voted with his party in the House 95.6% of the time. 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 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. 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. Boswell has voted to begin withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

However, Boswell has voted with Republicans on key issues in the past. In 2000 he voted to phase out the estate tax, a bill that was later vetoed by President Clinton. In 2001 Boswell voted for the USA PATRIOT Act, and for its reauthorization in 2005. In 2002 he to authorize the invasion of Iraq. In 2005 he voted for the bankruptcy bill sponsored by Senator Grassley. In 2008 he supported passing the FISA bill granting telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their involvement in warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, including his sending 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 to the telecom companies.

In 2008, Boswell voted in favor of the proposed $700 billion Wall Street relief package.

Election 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%

Congressional Committees


Agriculture Committee

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. [3]

See also


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


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