In her 1992 race for the state House, Betty McCollum beat incumbent Rep. Rick O'Conner in the DFL primary with 53.5 percent of the vote and then went on to beat Republican Rep. Dennis Newinski with nearly the same vote margin. Her reelections since have been by wider margins.
In the primary for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Bruce Vento, she survived a heated challenge by three experienced politicians. McCollum was the endorsed candidate.
Ultimately, McCollum defeated Republican Linda Runbeck and Independence Party candidate Tom Foley with 48 percent of the vote.
In 2002, McCollum was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote.