FOX 11 Investigates: The Wisconsin influence in D.C.

(WLUK) -- A new era is underway in Washington D.C. and two prominent Wisconsinites are in the middle of it all: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

The two men with deep Wisconsin roots are now at the center of American politics.

Ryan has spent 20 years in Congress, including more than a year as speaker. Priebus is the former head of the Republican National Committee. He is now the president's right hand man.

"They're not Washington guys. They're Wisconsin guys," said Republican strategist Mark Graul. He has known both Ryan and Priebus for decades.

"When you're so familiar with somebody and know so much about them, it's always interesting to see them in big roles like this but you know, when you step back a second, they're incredibly bright, incredibly capable, incredibly hard-working individuals and have always been that way," Graul said.

Graul says they will bring a different approach to governing than President Trump.

"They're very much more like, 'Hey let's sit down and talk about this. Even if we walk away disagreeing, we don't necessarily have to be disagreeable,'" Graul said.

Another man who knows Ryan and Priebus well is Governor Scott Walker.

"I talk to Reince sometimes three or four times a week," Walker said. "Paul Ryan and I just a few weeks ago, the two of us and our spouses just went out to a supper club."

Walker is no stranger to the national stage, thanks to massive protests, a recall election and an unsuccessful campaign for president.

The governor is now contemplating a third term, in part because Republicans are in control in D.C.

"The idea what we could finally have a House, a Senate and a president willing to send more responsibility and resources back to the states, would be a huge boom for us here in Wisconsin," Walker said.

He says it doesn't hurt to have Priebus and Ryan in such important positions.

"I think having friends in Washington will help us out tremendously," Walker said.

Ryan says his focus is on giving more control to states, including his own.

"We want to get power and money out of Washington back to our communities and back to our states so that we can customize solutions to Wisconsinites in Wisconsin," Ryan said.

But Democrats have another view.

"They don't have a mandate," said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now.

Ross says rather than D.C. impacting Wisconsin, he thinks Wisconsin will impact D.C.

"Wisconsin, and what's happened here over the last six years, is more of a blueprint for what we can expect out of Washington D.C. now that the Republicans are in charge of everything," Ross said.

He expects to see changes to unions, public education and health care.

But he hopes the Republican priorities include uniting the country.

"It is time for them to try to bring this country back together," Ross said. "If Reince Priebus is able to accomplish that, my hat is off to him."

But let's be clear, Ross is not a big fan of Ryan or Priebus.

"(Priebus) is a very good campaign strategist. I don't know how he is going to navigate Donald Trump to make sure that he does a good job as president because they are two completely different tasks," Ross said.

No matter your politics, St. Norbert College political science professor Charley Jacobs says having high profile political leaders sends a strong message about the state.

"I think this does enhance the reputation of the state that not only is it a pivotal state politically, but there are actors in the state who are competent to the task of leadership at the national level," Jacobs said.

Jacobs says it's especially important when it comes to Priebus, who he says is effectively a gatekeeper controlling access to the president.

"They have the opportunity to decide who gets to walk in and speak with the president and get the president's ear and who doesn't. If there are priorities that Priebus or others from the Wisconsin delegation have they may get some favored treatment in getting through that gate and getting some of the advantage of speaking directly to the president," Jacobs said.

Ryan and Priebus aren't the only Wisconsinites taking on leadership roles in D.C.

The former head of the Leinenkugel's Brewing Company has accepted a position with the Trump administration.

Jake Leinenkugel will serve as a senior White House adviser for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walker recently spent time at the White House. During his trip, he spoke with the vice-president about how the federal government could implement parts of the changes Wisconsin made regarding government workers. Click here for more on Walker's visit.

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