Reince Priebus, Robin Vos roommates at UW-Whitewater

TAMPA -- Two of Wisconsin's top Republicans -- Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Wisconsin Rep. Robin Vos have a friendship that dates back to their days as college roommates!

In the late 1980s and early 1990s in an apartment near campus, two ambitious young UW-Whitewater students became roommates, forging a friendship that forever changed Wisconsin politics.

Priebus and Vos became fast friends.

"We had fun in college. We spent a lot of time together, but even back in college, we loved being involved in politics. We were both involved in student government and we had a really great experience in Wisconsin at Whitewater," Priebus said.

Vos is the numbers whiz and policy expert who became the chairman of the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee that essentially wrote Act 10 (the bill that effectively ended collective bargaining) and the controversial Gov. Scott Walker budget.

Priebus is the true believer, whose rise through the ranks of party politics took him all the way to the top of the RNC.

Priebus and Vos have known each other since their earliest days.

"I grew up in Kenosha and he grew up in Racine. We knew each other before college. I have to say he was a couple years older than me," Priebus said.

"That is definitely true. I am 44. He's not that old, but he definitely is losing more hair than I am," Vos said.

The two look almost the same now as they did back in the early 90s -- save for Priebus' over-sized glasses.

"I actually had some glasses myself. I made sure to not show those pictures to you, but Reince was such a quality individual there was no doubt in my mind he was going to be successful. I will tell you, we both went door-to-door in his campaign or spent time talking. I never in my wildest dreams imagined he would be the chair of the Republican National Committee, but I never doubted for a minute he would have a big job like that," Vos said.

Now, Priebus is running the Republican Party, and the GOP Convention in Tampa. At a recent speech, Priebus made sure to acknowledge one person by name.

"One of my best buddies, Robin Vos, has been just a great friend and one of these guys where I could call and say 'hello' to and run something past him and get a text here and there. When he thinks I'm doing a decent job, he gives me an 'attaboy' which is always fun coming from Robin," Priebus said.

"He has this youthful enthusiasm that has literally been contagious to almost anyone he talks to," Vos said.

At the same time Priebus and Vos were in school at UW-Whitewater, so was Andy Speth -- Paul Ryan's chief of staff and Jim Ladwig -- the Racine County Executive. It has some asking, was there something in the water at UW-Whitewater?

"They say it's something in the water. As Reince would say, it's definitely something in the beer," Vos said.

Vos' rise in state politics continues. He will likely become the next Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, now that Jeff Fitzgerald has stepped aside.