Political news

I traveled Ohio on enough campaign trips with the late governor James A. Rhodes, one of the true characters of Ohio politics, to know that his tastes in food were eclectic to say the least.

On the campaign bus, it was sandwiches made from his favorite lunch meat, Lebanon bologna. At the Ohio State Fair, it was funnel cakes and a stop at the lunch wagon run by Der Dutchman, an Amish restaurant in Plain City, for an overstuffed roast beef sandwich.

Last week, Tales from the Trail introduced you to some famous eateries that have become must-stops for candidates running for office in Ohio – from candidates for county offices to the presidency. There are so many such places in Ohio, dishing out chili, piergoies, ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers that we felt a "part two" was needed. And, in fact, there are so many, that Tales From the Trail may revisit the subject in the future. Here are some more dining spots that make up the political map of Ohio:

Price Hill Chili, Cincinnati

U.S. Congress

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with New Director Maryanne Zeleznik about the life and career of former Cincinnati mayor and congressman Thomas A. Luken, who died Wednesday at the age of 92.

Tana Weingartner

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor has reached beyond the stable of professional politicians to choose Nathan Estruth, a Cincinnati-area businessman and social activist as her running mate.


Political commentators often describe President Trump as either a populist or a nationalist. Many Americans were unfamiliar with the two terms until the presidential election, but populism and nationalism have a long history here and in other countries.

This may sound like crazy talk, but there are some out there in Democratic circles – both here and in Washington – who believe Ohio's 1st Congressional District will be in play in 2018.

Taking on Republican Steve Chabot, the Westwood Republican who has represented Ohio's 1st Congressional district for all but two of the past 23 years, seems, on the surface at least, to be Mission Impossible.

Food and good places to eat are the one constant of running for public office in Ohio. Every city and town, it seems, has a restaurant, a diner, a hamburger stand that is a candidate-magnet. I've been in dozens of them in every corner of the state. This is part one of a two-part Tales from the Trail on my memories of dining on the campaign trail. Part two will follow next Saturday.

The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe, Greenville

On Tuesday morning, at Music Hall, Cincinnati's re-elected mayor and the nine council members elected in November will take their oaths of office for four year terms.

Six of those council members will be incumbents returning for a final term on council before the term limits law kicks in. Three will be brand-new council members, two of which won as first-time candidates.

On the surface, it may not look as if much has changed.

"On the surface" is the operable phrase there.

Let’s look at the newcomers and the people whose seats they will be taking.

I write this in the form of a confession.

The bad news is that I was once guilty of creating fake news.

The good news is I was only 13 years old.

Back when we were kids, growing up on the east side of Dayton, my buddy Mike and I put together a whopper of a scam that was meant to prank none other than the U.S. Air Force – specifically, Project Blue Book, the Air Force's long-standing program to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.

Reporting sightings of strange things in the skies was all the rage in the 1950s and 1960s.

There are some invitations to Christmas parties and holiday gatherings where you can thank the person inviting you and send your regrets for not being able to attend.

You might feel bad about it, but there's only so much time and so many places you can be.

In November 2009, I received one where "regrets" was not an option.

An invitation to the White House holiday party for print reporters.

Pete Rightmire/WVXU

This week President Trump presented his National Security Strategy, calling Russia and China U.S. rivals and Iran and North Korea rogue states. A massive GOP tax overhaul unpopular with approximately 50 percent of Americans is headed into law. Congress addresses further accusations of sexual harassment as some senators backtrack on their earlier call for Al Franken to resign. And the Russian investigation moves forward. 


WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about Mayor John Cranley's naming of Christopher Smitherman as vice mayor and David Mann as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. Does the Smitherman choice have implications for the 2021 mayor's race, when Cranley will be term-limited out? 

We're not here to say that the pairing of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Cincinnati council member Amy Murray is not going to work.  

Jim Rhodes, the late four-term governor of Ohio, could be a real pain in the neck.

He could also be a very funny man, in a Rhodesian, Southern Ohio kind of way.

I remember two days, both at the Ohio State Fair, where I experienced both Jims.

The first time was in 1994 and the second in 1998, long after Rhodes left office. Rhodes was getting up in years and couldn't walk the fairgrounds the way he did in the old days, when he was the grand poobah and chief architect of the annual summer event in Columbus.


Charlie Winburn first served on Cincinnati's City Council from 1993 to 2001, then returned to council in 2009. The Republican leaves office at the end of this month due to term limits. He will continue serving as Executive Pastor of Renew Community Church and as a life coach.


Kevin Flynn is leaving Cincinnati City Council at the end of this month after serving one four-year term. Flynn is an attorney with the law firm of Griffin Fletcher & Herndon LLP. A member of Cincinnati's Charter Party, or Charter Committee, he is the only council member to attend every council meeting and special session since December, 2013. While Flynn could have run for another term this year, he announced as early as fall of last year that he would not seek re-election.

Howard Wilkinson / WVXU

Updated 1 p.m.

Republican Cincinnati council member Amy Murray is teaming up with gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci as his running mate.


WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill and his declared candidacy for Ohio governor. Can O'Neill continue to sit on the bench and be a partisan political candidate? Many are saying no, but O'Neill, the only Democrat on the court, says he won't resign until Jan. 26. 

Until recently former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray had been stuck in political limbo for what seemed like an eternity, unable, by federal law, to even hint at his ambition to be Ohio's next governor.

The Grove City Democrat was serving as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with a six-year term that was to have expired in June 2018.

The Hatch Act, which prohibits most federal employees from engaging in partisan politics, kept Cordray quiet about his ambitions, even though everyone in Ohio knew he had them burning inside him.

I'm writing this for those of you who may be just out of college and looking for a job; or those who a bit older but who are looking for a change of scenery in the workplace.

It is the story of how you can do something incredibly stupid in the middle of a job interview and still get the job.

Not that I recommend this method, mind you. But I am proof positive that it can be done.

Allow me to explain:

Howard Wilkinson

The late Bobbie Sterne's legacy as a Cincinnati council member and mayor was remembered by hundreds of her friends Wednesday at Memorial Hall.

Ohioans elect a new governor in 2018. The four official Democratic candidates vying to become Ohio's next governor are participating in a live debate from Cleveland.

The following candidates are participating in this hour-long debate: Connie Pillich, Joe Schiavoni, Betty Sutton, Nan Whaley. The debate is moderated by Karen Kasler, bureau chief, Ohio Public Radio Television Statehouse News Bureau and Russ Mitchell, anchor WKYC Channel 3 News.

It's not quite time to break out the noisemakers and drop the balloons in celebration, but Hamilton County Democrats could do something in 2018 that hasn't been done in the lifetime of anyone reading this column.

They could end up holding all three seats on the Hamilton County Board of County commissioners.

Todd Portune's not going away anytime soon; Denise Driehaus just arrived earlier this year; and neither of them are up for re-election until 2020.

If you are what we euphemistically like to call a "veteran" Reds fan, you no doubt remember watching the sixth game of the 1975 World Series between the Big Red Machine and the Boston Red Sox.


North Korea claims it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, able to strike anywhere in the United States. Congress works to extend government funding before a December 8 deadline to avoid a shutdown as Republicans push their tax plan to passage. A fight over the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau goes to the courts. 


WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about the life of a Cincinnati political icon, former council member and mayor Bobbie Sterne, who died last week at the age of 97. She was a kind and gracious person who was passionate about the issues she cared about. She had been an Army nurse on the beaches of Normandy during World War II, so there was nothing that could happen at Cincinnati City Hall that could rattle her. 

At noon today, two contiguous states – Ohio and Michigan – will be at a near standstill because of a football game in Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

The Ohio State Buckeyes versus the Michigan Wolverines. Quite possibly, the greatest rivalry in college football history.

Republican Jeff Pastor is hanging on to a slim 223 vote lead over Democrat Michelle Dillingham in the official count of the November 7 Cincinnati City Council election. The contest for that ninth seat on is heading for a recount.


WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about all the news generated by Ohio Democrats last week: Former Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray announcing he will quit his federal job, presumably to run for Ohio governor; and a bizarre Facebook post from Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill in which he detailed his sex life, creating a firestorm of criticism from fellow Democrats. 

It was becoming something like a Samuel Beckett play: Waiting for Cordray.

Nearly a year of waiting for Richard Cordray, the former state treasurer and Ohio attorney general, to make up his mind to leave as the first and only director the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ended Wednesday when Cordray sent a letter to his staff saying he would leave office by the end of the month.