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Loebsack considers relocation to avoid contest with Braley

Gazette, The (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA) - Friday, April 1, 2011
Author: By James Q. Lynch, Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES -- It was like double coupon day. 

Political junkies who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Iowa's decennial redistricting plan expected two of the state's five U.S. House members to be paired up in the pared down congressional district map. Slow population growth over the past decade resulted in Iowa losing one of its current congressional districts, shrinking the number from five to four for the 2012 election. 

They were half right. Eastern Iowa Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack were matched up in the new 1st District and Republican Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King were paired in the new 4th District in the first reapportionment plan drafted by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency based on 2010 U.S. census data. 

That left Democrat Rep. Leonard Boswell alone in the 4th and a wide-open 2nd District. 

That didn't last long as Loebsack indicated he intends to run in the new 2nd District in 2012. The district includes all but one county he represents now -- his home county of Linn. 

"Understanding that the redistricting process is ongoing, as the map stands now, I would plan to continue to represent the southeastern district of Iowa," Loebsack said in a statement from Loebsack for Congress. 

The new 2nd District stretches from Newton on the west to the Mississippi River from Missouri to the Clinton-Jackson County line. In addition to Iowa City-Coralville, the 2nd would include the Quad Cities. 

A hiccup in Loebsack's plan would be former first lady Christie Vilsack throwing her hat into the ring. Vilsack has been quietly looking into making a bid, for Congress, possibly from her 2nd District hometown of Mount Pleasant. 

If Loebsack opts to run in the new southeast Iowa district, the leaves the 20-county 1st District open for a Braley re-election bid. The first would include Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Dubuque and Waterloo, where the third-term congressman lives. 

"This map is a first draft and the first step in a process that will determine new congressional districts," Braley said in a statement. "We'll all have to wait and see how the process plays out." 

So the main event on the 2012 election card could likely be a match-up featuring the dean of the Iowa House delegation, nine-term Republican Latham, and King, who is in his fifth term representing Iowa's sprawling 5th District. That is if Latham shows up. 

Latham said Iowans are "lucky to have what is widely regarded as one of the fairest redistricting processes in the country," Latham said, but didn't speak to whether he will be on the ballot in 2012. 

"I know that the members of the Legislature will keep the best interests of the people of Iowa at heart as they move forward with the next steps of this redistricting process," Latham said in a statement. "Regardless of the specifics of the final map, I will continue to work on behalf of the interest of all Iowans." 

King plans to seek re-election regardless of what the map looks like. 

"I plan on being on the ballot in 2012," he said. "I look forward to continuing my work in Congress in 2012 and beyond." 

However, according to the Sioux City Journal, he sidestepped a question about the prospect of a Republican primary with Latham. "I'd want to know what kind of prospects this map has before I answer that question," he said, referring to the fact it's not eligible for legislative approval for two weeks. 

"I have a good friendly and personal relationship with Tom Latham. That's something he and I should talk about before we talk about it in the press." 

Boswell was pleased with the new 3rd District that would stretch from Des Moines, where he lives, to the Missouri River in the state's southwestern quadrant. 

"Whatever the conclusion of our redistricting process, I look forward to continuing to represent Iowa and fighting for her interests," Boswell said. 

Ten years ago, then-Reps. Jim Nussle and Jim Leach, both Republicans, were placed in the same district. Leach moved. 

Hearings on the plan are scheduled next week in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Bettenforf and Des Moines.