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Vos Confronted Kasich Over Wisconsin Redistricting Lawsuit

Meeting Came After Ohio Governor Voiced Support For Overturning Wisconsin's Legislative Map

(WPR)---Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos confirmed Thursday he confronted Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich over Kasich's support for a lawsuit that could overturn Wisconsin's Republican-drawn legislative map.

The encounter was reported as part of a profile of Kasich by New York Magazine.

According to the article, Kasich was preparing to deliver a speech to statehouse speakers from across the country when Vos "amicably approached the governor and then swore at him for adding his name to a Supreme Court brief opposing Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin."

"They had a heated exchange in which Vos accused Kasich of betraying his party," the magazine reported.

Asked about the encounter at his state capitol office Thursday, Vos confirmed he spoke with Kasich.

"I just was disappointed that he kind of stepped into an issue that he didn't know much about," Vos said. "And that's what I told him. That I was disappointed."

Vos wouldn't say whether he swore at the outspoken Ohio governor.

"He can characterize it however he wants," Vos said.

Vos said he did not think he accused Kasich of "betraying his party" in the redistricting case.

"I don't think I used those exact words, but it might have been his implication," Vos said. "If you're going to do something that happens to have an impact on one side of the aisle that you happen to be associated with, it would be nice if you talked to people who were actually involved in the process."

Vos said Kasich did not back down from his position after the confrontation.

"Have you met John Kasich?" Vos said. "He just relishes in the fact of how he operates. So all I wanted to do was to make sure he understood there are real world consequences for decisions that he makes, whether he wants to run for president and step on somebody else along the way, that's up to him."

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last month in Wisconsin's redistricting lawsuit, which seeks to overturn the legislative boundaries passed by Vos and other Republican state lawmakers in 2011.

The lawsuit contends Wisconsin Republicans violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters in Wisconsin by making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to gain a majority in the Legislature. It focuses in part on the 2012 election, when Republicans won 60 out of 99 Wisconsin Assembly seats despite winning only 48 percent of the vote.

Kasich signed onto a brief in the case with other prominent Republicans, including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former GOP presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.

They urged justices to overturn Wisconsin's map, arguing that gerrymandering had led to the decline of bipartisanship in the United States.

"This case presents an opportunity to stamp out this most egregious form of partisan gerrymander — one that was enacted for the sole purpose of entrenching one political party," read their brief.

The Supreme Court has never overturned a legislative map for being too partisan.

If it were to take that step in Wisconsin's case, it could lead to a more competitive map that would give Democrats a better chance at winning more districts.

It would also likely lead to similar lawsuits around the country in states where one political party controlled the redistricting process after the last census in 2011.

If the Supreme Court declines to overturn Wisconsin's map, court-watchers say justices may not revisit the issue for several years, or even decades.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.