McCollum holds on to U.S. House seat in 4th District

The history of the 4th District makes it hard for Republican candidates to win.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum defeated Republican Obi Sium, her lone challenger, to win the 4th Congressional District Race Tuesday night.

McCollum, who will serve her fourth term, had received 69.6 percent of the vote to Sium’s 30.2 percent, as of 11:39 p.m.

McCollum said she looks forward to being a member of the majority party for the first time in her career. As of press time, Democrats were poised to capture the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The American people want change, a new direction for families and our future,” McCollum said.

University journalism senior and political science graduate Carissa Jackson, who interned for McCollum’s campaign last semester, said she would have bet her brother’s life on McCollum winning.

“She’s very representative of the 4th District,” Jackson said. “She’s progressive and forward-thinking and very well-liked.”

Political science sophmore Abdul-Rahman Magba-Kamara, who volunteered on Sium’s campaign, said he expected the candidate to have a strong turnout, and will help Sium’s campaign again in two years if Sium decides to run.

“If he plans on running again I’m going to be right there, two more years helping from the start,” Magba-Kamara said. “We’ll have more things together if he announces he’s running again. I’m sure I’ll be there.”

William Flanigan, University political science professor emeritus, said he had expected McCollum to win easily based on her past success. The history of the 4th District makes it hard for a Republican candidate like Sium, Flanigan said.

“Against a popular incumbent it’s hard to recruit candidates that want to run under those circumstances against McCollum,” Flanigan said. “There are a lot of different things that make it a very, very tough seat for the Republicans to try to win.”

In 2004, McCollum was easily re-elected, defeating Patrice Bataglia in a 58 percent to 33 percent victory.

The 4th District, which includes the St. Paul campus, has been a stronghold for the DFL. The party has held the seat since 1948. Because the district has been a safe race for the DFL, Republicans have traditionally put effort and money into other races.

According to a report released last month by the Federal Election Commission, McCollum received $492,101 in total contributions, while Sium received $62,349.

McCollum’s political career began when she ran for the North St. Paul City Council after her daughter was injured in a playground accident. She first ran for Congress in 2000 after serving in the Minnesota House since 1993.

McCollum said she plans to start with changing the policy in Iraq and she anticipates that working with Democrats is going to be a new experience for President George W. Bush.

McCollum thanked voters for their support and vowed to keep voters’ interests up front.

“You have my commitment to work in politics to put people first,” she said.

– Elizabeth Cook contributed to this report.