I recently had an opportunity to sit down and chat with small businessman Todd Kolosso, the Democratic challenger Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in Wisconsin’s fifth Congressional district. As we spoke, two things became abundantly clear: Todd Kolosso is passionate about making his community a better place and he’s passionate in his belief in the importance of small businesses to our economy.
Kolosso spent his formative years in Slinger, and following his graduation from Marquette University High School, he studied at Marquette University for two years before graduating with a B.A. in International Relations from American University’s School of International Service. During his time in college, Kolosso also studied at universities in Germany and Austria, and following his graduation from college, he went to work as a property manager in his family’s business, where he grew the business before eventually taking it over. In talking about his background and upbringing, Kolosso noted he grew up in a family of Republicans, and that he himself was a Republican until the years of the Clinton presidency, when he began his metamorphosis into a moderate Democrat.
Discussing his evolution from a Republican to a Democrat, Kolosso cited his education at Marquette University High School, an education that emphasized social justice, as being the beginning of his transformation. He noted that after high school, he went to Washington, D.C., and while in Washington he saw a fundamental contempt for individuals and families that needed help the most. It was during that time period Kolosso began to realize, “we ought to be on the ground helping people.” Kolosso went on to note his transition from being a Republican to a Democrat began in earnest during the years of the Clinton presidency, when he found himself drifting away from the beliefs of the Republican Party in favor of a more independent view. Kolosso noted that while President Clinton had a pro-business philosophy, that philosophy also “helped the little guy.”
While Kolosso’s shift from identifying as a Republican to identifying as a Democrat began during the years of the Clinton presidency, Kolosso himself noted it was the election of George W. Bush in 2000 that cemented his shift to the Democratic Party. He noted his opposition at that time to the Iraq War as a potential “economic boondoggle,” and he also noted what he perceived to be fear-mongering on the part of the Republican Party.
However, despite his shift to the Democratic Party, Kolosso was quick to note he’d consider himself to be a moderate Democrat. He noted that while he may not be as conservative as some Blue Dog Democrats in the House, he sees himself as being a moderate Democrat, noting that while he may be left of center on many social issues, he is pro-life and generally pro-business.
Asked to list his priorities for the fifth Congressional district if elected to serve, Kolosso listed three areas he’d focus on:
- More small business development – loan/grant programs, which in his opinion have been underfunded.
- A real emphasis on small businesses as an economic catalyst
- Tax cuts for the middle class
When asked why he feels he’d be a more effective Congressman than his opponent, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, for the fifth Congressional district, Kolosso noted the incumbent simply “doesn’t get it.” Kolosso noted Rep. Sensenbrenner’s clout in Congress has dropped significantly in the past few years, and he went on to add that Rep. Sensenbrenner is viewed as being not very approachable, hindering his ability to create coalitions to find common ground between Democrats and Republicans. Kolosso added he believes that while there are issues the left and right won’t ever agree on, there is certainly some common ground to be found by legislators from both parties. He went on to say everyone wants their neighbors, their district, and the nation to succeed – the two parties just disagree on how to bring about that success, and he pointed out that just because an individual happens to be from another political party doesn’t make that individual your enemy.
Kolosso also cited his experience as a small businessman, noting he lives the stuggle of small business owners who need to pay bills, pay health care premiums, and manage their businesses. Kolosso went on to noted that given the important role small business play in ensuring a strong economy, he feels he would be more effective in Washington D.C. because he knows what’s going on with small businesses.
Asked to describe the response to his campaign by voters in the fifth district, Kolosso said he’s gotten a good response, noting the response to his campaign by volunteers has been “overwhelming.” Kolosso also made a point to note he’s been spending time talking to Republicans and independents as he’s been campaigning across the fifth district, and he noted he’s received campaign contributions from some Republicans. Kolosso added many of those he’s talked to have indicated they just want competent, credible representation in the House.
Having spent time interviewing Todd Kolosso, it’s clear he’s a thoughtful, intelligent, and passionate candidate for the United States House of Representatives, and the voters of Wisconsin’s fifth Congressional district would certainly be well-served with Todd Kolosso as their voice in Washington D.C.