DES MOINES - Iowa voters decided to retain four incumbent Congressmen on Tuesday after competitive races in all four newly drawn districts.
Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack fell short in a bid to become the state's first female U.S. House member. She had moved to Ames to try to unseat outspoken Republican Rep. Steve King in the reconfigured 4th District, but King successfully defended his seat and will serve a sixth term in Congress.
Nine-term Republican Rep. Tom Latham also relocated, settling in the Des Moines suburb of Clive to run against eight-term Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell - a bitter race that ended with Latham on top.
Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack moved 20 miles south to Iowa City to run in a new district that includes much of southeastern Iowa, where he defeated Republican John Archer. Loebsack said it's time for Congress to put politics aside and get serious about the nation's business.
"Now it's a matter of getting back to work, heading back to Washington, D.C., and doing everything we can to make sure we get the country back on a sound economic footing and get people back to work," Loebsack said.
And Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo, fought off 33-year old Republican Ben Lange, the same small-town lawyer who fell just 4,200 votes of defeating him in 2010.
"I'm looking forward to spending the next two years doing what I've done the last six, which is working to build relationships with people on both sides of the aisle to get things done," Braley said.
While Republicans seemed poised to retain their House majority, Iowa's races were seen as a bellwether for Democratic gains or losses.
The 4th District race in mostly rural northwestern Iowa looked to be one of the tightest races this year, pitting Vilsack, wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, against the outspoken King.
Elected to Congress in 2002, King, 63, has endeared himself to conservatives for being quick to defend their causes on the House floor and national television. But in the process, he has made many remarks that have been criticized as insensitive, inaccurate or outrageous.
Vilsack, a 62-year-old former teacher and journalist from Mount Pleasant, cast herself as a moderate who would focus on improving the economies of small towns.
The race in the 3rd Congressional district, which stretches from Des Moines to southwest Iowa, was the capstone in Boswell's career. Boswell said his defeat ended public service that started 56 years ago when he joined the military, and that included 12 years in the state Senate and 16 years in the U.S. House.
"It wasn't exactly the way we thought it would end," Boswell told supporters. "It's been a privilege to serve my fellow Americans. Thank you very much."
Boswell campaign manager Grant Woodard said outside spending by conservative super PACs distorted the Democrat's record and played a major role in his defeat. Woodard said he expects Boswell will retire to his farm outside Lamoni.
Latham, 64, said after winning Tuesday that he hopes elected officials will be able to work together to solve the country's problems.
"It's going to be a divided government again so it's more difficult obviously, but there's no reason honest people can't sit down and put people ahead of politics," Latham said.