Howard Wilkinson

Political Reporter

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.

In 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists inducted Wilkinson into the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame. 

Wilkinson appears on  Cincinnati Edition, blogs on politics and more, and writes the weekly column Politically Speaking at wvxu.org.

Ways to Connect

So, what does it mean when the professional tea leaf readers move a congressional race from a Likely Republican status to a Leans Republican status?

Well, we are about to find out.

That's exactly what Sabato's Crystal Ball, one of the nation's leading trackers of races at the state, congressional and presidential levels, did this week with Ohio's 1st Congressional District, which has been held by Republican Steve Chabot in all but two of the past 25 years.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Having been something of a class clown growing up in Dayton, Ohio, terrorizing many an innocent grade school teacher at Cleveland Elementary School with my pranks and wise-acre behavior, I suppose it's not surprising that, as an adult, I would get my chance to be a genuine circus clown.

Complete with greasepaint, baggy pants, and dozens of skinny balloons stuffed into my oversized pockets to turn into balloon animals for the kiddies.

Wikipedia

The City of Cincinnati recently won a federal appeals court case that challenged a portion of the responsible bidder ordinance, but it appears a clear council majority is ready to delay implementing it for 60 days.

WVXU-FM

WVXU Politics Reporter Howard Wilkinson talk with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about what appears to be a push by lame-duck Gov. John Kasich to keep his political career going after he leaves office at the end of the year.  He appears to be preparing to run for president again.

Part 2 of a two-part Tales from the Trail:

Sometimes, I don't believe it either.

I've had a career covering politics where I have gone to 16 presidential nominating conventions, Democratic and Republican.

More than any one human being should have to bear.

I shouldn't complain, though, even in jest. I've visited some great American cities, seen a few baseball games in some ball parks I might never have gotten to, and, from time to time, actually witnessed American history being made.

And told the story.

WVXU-FM

WVXU Politics Reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about the odds of the Democrats winning a House seat in southwest Ohio or northern Kentucky this fall. 

The primary contests for Ohio governor and U.S. Senate on the May 8 primary ballot will get much of the attention, there are a number of contested primaries here in southwest Ohio as well.

This week, we will look at the top primary races in Hamilton County. And, in weeks to come, we will do the same with contested primaries in the region.

Here we go:  

Ohio Senate – 9th District

Four years ago, former Cincinnati council member Cecil Thomas defeated then-State Rep. Dale Mallory in a six-way Democratic primary by 556 votes.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

It's a fact; I have been to 16 presidential nominating conventions, Democratic and Republican, over the course of my career covering politics.

Some would say this cruel and unusual punishment is more than any one human being deserves.

After all, the political people only go to their own party's conventions. I go to both. Often in back-to-back weeks.

People often ask me which conventions have been the worst to cover and which have been the best.

Here in Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich has a little more than 10 months left in office, voters are starting to focus in on who will be elected this year to follow him into the governor's office.

The Republican governor was elected governor twice – once in a landslide – and remains pretty popular, with high approval rating numbers.

Yet the two Republican candidates who want to replace him – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Kasich's own lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor – seem to want to have nothing to do with him.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Usually, when you look back at a long period of time working in the same place, it is the first day on the job that you remember the most.

The nervousness. The overwhelming desire to impress. The first time you have to go to someone and ask where the restroom is.

In other words, your general dorkiness.

That first day is something to remember.

But, for me, it is the second day I worked at the Cincinnati Enquirer I remember the most.

WVXU-FM

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about both the Ohio Republican Party and President Trump wading into the Ohio GOP's May 7 primary with endorsements.

Ann Thompson

President Donald Trump came to Blue Ash Monday to tout the Republican tax reform bill he signed into law; and boast that it is already paying dividends for American workers and companies.

WVXU-FM

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about Saturday's Northern Kentucky Legislative Conference at Highland High School in Fort Thomas. About 500 residents showed up; and many of them gave legislators an earful about Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed budget cuts to K-12 and higher education. They want the legislators to go back to Frankfort and write a budget that restores the Bevin cuts. 

Game on.

Aftab Pureval versus Steve Chabot in Ohio's 1st Congressional District.

For all the marbles.

Charismatic, up-and-coming young challenger up against a wily old veteran of many an election battle, with bumps and bruises to prove it.

We could sell tickets to this one.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

One of the most memorable interviews I've done in my career was with a man who was not a politician, but was a spiritual adviser to many occupants of the White House over the years.

Billy Graham, the world's most famous TV evangelist, who has spread his Gospel message to billions on television and in person all over the world since starting his ministry by pitching tents in a Los Angeles parking lot in 1949, is now 99 years old and living in retirement in his mountaintop home near Asheville, North Carolina.

President Trump will tout the Republican tax cuts at a Blue Ash manufacturing company Monday afternoon.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Vanessa Morrone of the White House press office confirmed the visit Thursday afternoon, but said the White House is not yet ready to release details on what the president will be doing in Cincinnati. It's not known if it will be a public or private event - or possibly both.

Howard Wilkinson

Democrat Aftab Pureval said it best Wednesday morning when he spoke to a crowded room of supporters in Avondale: his candidacy for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Steve Chabot was "the worst kept secret in Cincinnati."

After months of speculation, the 35-year-old Pureval, who pulled off a stunning upset victory over a Republican incumbent in the 2016 race for Hamilton County clerk of courts, made it official in an enthusiastic rally at Avondale's Gabriel's Place, a non-profit involved in urban agriculture.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about Democrat Aftab Pureval, who burst on the local political scene in 2016 with an upset win over a Republican clerk of courts. Now, Pureval appears to be about to announce he is going to run for the U.S. House seat held by Republican Steve Chabot. Wilkinson takes a look at the pros and cons of  a Pureval candidacy. 

So, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor – who wants to be the next governor – is running away from Gov. John Kasich at the speed of light.

And the apparent front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hasn't gone out of his way to court the support of the present governor.

Kasich, for his part, responds to all of this with his usual reaction to such things – he shrugs his shoulders, moves on, and books another trip to New Hampshire for April, making it abundantly clear that, one way or another, he plans on running for president again in 2020.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

It's not often in a political reporter's career that you find yourself in a room where you actually witness the moment an American president's chances of being re-elected go up in a puff of smoke.

I was in such a room on October 28,1980, at the old Convention Center Music Hall in Cleveland, for the only head-to-head debate between Republican Ronald Reagan and Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter.

And, to this day, I believe that debate sealed Carter's fate.

Michael E. Keating

Homicides in Cincinnati were up nearly 15 percent last year compared to 2016.

But police officials told city council's Law and Public Safety Committee Monday that the increase was not nearly as large as some nearby cities.

The number of homicides jumped from 62 to 71, according to Assistant Police Chiefs Paul Neudigate and Mike John. John showed the committee a slide with photos of all 71 homicide victims to make a point that they were not just numbers.

WVXU-FM

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about how Republican Jim Renacci's switching from the governor's race to the U.S. Senate race changes the dynamics of the GOP's plans of unseating incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown. 

As recently as six weeks ago, Jim Renacci, the Republican congressman from Wadsworth in northeast Ohio, was gung-ho about running for governor of the state of Ohio, making speeches about how an "outsider" like him could come in and fix what's broken in Columbus.

Then, state treasurer Josh Mandel sent shock waves throughout Republican circles in Ohio and dropped out of the U.S. Senate race, which, if he had won the primary, would have been a rematch of his losing campaign in 2012 against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

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.

There's no doubt that the late Thomas A. Luken would have enjoyed the visitation held this morning in the undercroft of St. Xavier Church downtown.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

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.

WVXU-FM

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with New Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about the sudden withdrawal of State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican, from Ohio's U.S. Senate race. It might have been a re-match between Mandel and Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown - a 2012 race that Brown won by six percentage points. But now the picture on Republican side is muddled, at best. Will the GOP nominee be Cleveland banker Mike Gibbons or will a better-known GOP figure step forward?  

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