Assembly Speaker Robin Vos took a measured approach toward what two Wisconsin political figures in key national roles, House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, could do to help the state.

Speaking at a WisPolitics luncheon in Madison Jan. 18, Vos acknowledged the limitations Ryan, R-Janesville, and former state GOP chair Priebus face in advocating for Wisconsin in their respective positions.

Vos said that while Ryan understands the issues in Wisconsin, making it “even more important that he knows our needs,” the Rochester Republican said Ryan ultimately needs buy-in from the whole caucus.

As for Priebus, Vos said while he’s in a place to offer input and be the president’s gatekeeper, he wouldn’t ultimately be able to use the position to advocate for the needs of Wisconsin.

“Ultimately Donald Trump is going to make the decisions, not Reince,” Vos said.

He added that at the end of the day, Ryan is going to be in a better place to advocate for Wisconsin.

“I think the more important player of the two is really Paul Ryan, to make sure that as we go forward, the bills that are passed, the impact that they have, Wisconsin isn’t forgotten, and I know Paul won’t let that happen,” Vos said.

Turning to state government, where the GOP holds 64 Assembly seats, the largest Republican majority in decades, Vos chalked up high GOP numbers to party prowess in winning seats — not how the district maps are drawn.

“We have a better team, we have better candidates, we have better recruiting, we have a better message, that’s why we win elections,” he said.

In November, a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the Assembly boundaries Republicans drew in 2011 were unconstitutional and would ensure a GOP majority for a decade. The panel ordered both sides in the suit to propose remedies before deciding how to proceed.

AG Brad Schimel, though, said he plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state DOJ has argued working on the maps before the high court looks at the case would be a waste of time, as they could reverse the panel’s ruling or adopt a standard for partisan gerrymandering of its own.

Vos maintained that the GOP-drawn maps would hold up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’re not going to lose,” he said. “We’re not going to lose in court.”

And he pushed back on the idea of drawing districts based on past election results, saying it would “upend everything, in a negative way.”

“If you think it is partisan now, imagine the only criteria for drawing districts is how many of your own people you turn out, not about appealing to anybody else but just increasing your own vote total,” Vos said. “You will see partisanship in a way that is incredibly corrosive, which is why the Supreme Court could never let it happen.”

Also at the luncheon, Vos was non-committal on Rep. Adam Jarchow’s proposal to split the DNR’s environmental and wildlife functions.

While Vos said he still hasn’t seen details of the proposal, he emphasized the need to balance economic growth with the “most clean” environment possible.

“I’ll be open to other ideas, but if it’s just a slash and burn the DNR, I don’t think that serves a purpose,” he said.

But Vos added if Jarchow’s bill would increase services while saving money and maintaining the same level of environmental protections, he doesn’t know “why anybody would be opposed to that.”

Walker and other GOP leaders have also previously said they’d consider the Balsam Lake Republican’s bill.

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