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.

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Nate Davis of Cincinnati -  who spent four years as a Marine and served for 11 months in Iraq - took the stage at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte to tell Democrats here and the nation how the Obama administration has helped him achieve his dreams.

"With every step, he's had a huge impact on veterans,'' said Davis. "Not only did he get us what we needed overseas, he's been there for us at home. He's helped us get jobs, gotten guys help for PTSD, stood strong with military families."

Cincinnati firefighter Doug Stern - who campaigned hard to repeal Senate Bill 5 in last year's election - told the crowd at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night that the Republican Party is guilty of an assault on working people - particularly public employees like firefighters and police officers.

"Republicans must stop obstructing the middle class,'' said Stern, a member of Cincinnati Firefighters Local 48 to the crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena. "They must pass the president's jobs bill."

Actress Ashley Judd - native Kentuckian and actress - provided some star power to Tuesday's morning's breakfast of Ohio delegates at the Oasis Shriners' Lodge in Charlotte.

Judd, who lives in Tennessee, made a brief speech to the Ohio delegates where she brought up a subject that had yet to be mentioned in any of the Ohio delegation meetings - abortion.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory spoke briefly to the Ohio delegates at their morning breakfast in Charlotte Tuesday; and got a good-natured laugh out of the audience with a joke.

"The dynamics of this election dictate Ohio will decide the election,'' Mallory said. "Hamilton County is the key to that. Cincinnati is the largest entity in Hamilton County. And I am the mayor of the city of Cincinnati.

"So, as mayor of Cincinnati, I am the most important person in the world,'' Mallory said, joining in the laughter from the crowd.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory spoke briefly to the Ohio delegates at their morning breakfast in Charlotte Tuesday; and got a good-natured laugh out of the audience with a joke.

"The dynamics of this election dictate Ohio will decide the election,'' Mallory said. "Hamilton County is the key to that. Cincinnati is the largest entity in Hamilton County. And I am the mayor of the city of Cincinnati.

"So, as mayor of Cincinnati, I am the most important person in the world,'' Mallory said, joining in the laughter from the crowd.

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney of North Avondale had a personal story about Barack and Michelle Obama to tell the Ohio Democratic delegation at its morning breakfast Tuesday.

Kearney told of reading newspaper story in 2003 about a young state senator from Illinois who was planning on making a long-shot run at a U.S. Senate seat in 2004.

"I went home to my wife, showed her the story, and said you have to read this,'' Kearney said.

His wife, Jan Michelle Kearney, an attorney, looked at the newspaper clipping and matter-of-factly said, "Oh, that's Barack."

Kathleen Sebelius, the Cincinnati native who Secretary of Health and Human Services, came to the Ohio delegation breakfast in Charlotte Tuesday morning telling her fellow Ohioans that they "are the key to this election."

Sebelius, a former Kansas governor who is the daughter of former Ohio governor John J. Gilligan, took up the question that Mitt Romney's campaign has been asking in campaign stops since the GOP convention last week - are you better off now than you were four years  ago?

"Are you better off?,'' Sebelius said. "You bet you are."

Kathleen Sebelius, the Cincinnati native who Secretary of Health and Human Services, came to the Ohio delegation breakfast in Charlotte Tuesday morning telling her fellow Ohioans that they "are the key to this election."

Sebelius, a former Kansas governor who is the daughter of former Ohio governor John J. Gilligan, took up the question that Mitt Romney's campaign has been asking in campaign stops since the GOP convention last week - are you better off now than you were four years  ago?

"Are you better off?,'' Sebelius said. "You bet you are."

Cincinnati firefighter Doug Stern, who appeared in TV commercials last year urging voters to repeal Senate Bill 5, will speak at the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte tonight.

Stern, a member of Cincinnati Firefighters Local 48, will speak briefly sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. tonight.

His subject, no doubt, will be Senate Bill 5, the Republican-backed legislation which would have limited the collective bargaining powers of public employees such as police, firefighters and teachers.

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland said he won't mention the man who beat him for re-election, Gov. John Kasich, by name in his speech tonight to the Democratic National Convention, but told WVXU he will "straighten out the falsehoods" he says the GOP governor uttered.

"I'm not going to talk about Kasich,'' Strickland told WVXU in an interview late Monday afternoon in the lobby of the Hilton at University Place hotel, one of two hotels the Ohio delegation is using in Charlotte. "All Kasich did was talk about himself."

Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, the Democrats fired from the Montgomery County Board of Elections for  defying Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's order on early voting hours, were treated as conquering heroes by the Ohio Democratic delegates in Charlotte Monday morning.

At Monday morning's Ohio delegation breakfast, delegates gave Lieberman and Ritchie a standing ovation as they took the stage at the Oasis Shriners Lodge.

"I'm not a hero,'' said Lieberman, saying that his father, a combat military veteran was the true hero. "I just stood up for people's right to vote."

Ohio delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte were treated to a replay of Clint Eastwood's imaginary conversation with President Obama in a empty chair that took place at the Republican convention in Tampa - this time with Eastwood in the empty chair.

Ohio delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte were treated to a replay of Clint Eastwood's imaginary conversation with President Obama in a empty chair that took place at the Republican convention in Tampa - this time with Eastwood in the empty chair.

State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Bond Hill, showed up in Charlotte Monday morning in time for the Ohio delegation breakfast, proud to be attending for the first time as an elected delegate.

Tomorrow night, when First Lady Michelle Obama makes her speech to the Democratic National Convention at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena, she can look to her left and see the Ohio delegation sitting close by the stage.

Placement of state delegations on the floor of the convention is usually an indication of the state's importance in the upcoming election - and Ohio is a very important battleground state.

So, they have a prime spot, just to the left of the speakers' podium in the arena that usually houses the Charlotte Bobcats, an NBA team.  

The 225 delegates and alternates from Ohio are staying in two different hotels in Charlotte, nearby to one another on the north side of town.

About half are in the Hilton University Plaza hotel and the rest are in the Drury Inn, just a block or so away.

Shortly before 5 p.m., several busloads of delegates and guests, most of northeast and northwest Ohio, rolled into the Drury Inn parking lot after the long ride to Charlotte.

Paul Whalen of Fort Thomas and his wife Teena were among 22 Kentucky delegates, guests and spouses who piled into a bus in Frankfort early Sunday morning for the long drive to Charlotte, site of the Democratic National Convention.

Whalen, who chairs the Campbell County Democratic Party, didn't seem to mind.

"Meeting a lot of nice people from around Kentucky as well as learning more about the Commonwealth,'' Whalen e-mailed from the bus.

The mood among Tristate delegates on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday night, as Mitt Romney delivered his reception speech, may have best been summed up in a tweet.

"An honor to be so close to this historic moment,'' Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Alex Triantafilou tweeted as Romney took the stage Thursday.

Accompanying his tweet was a photo Triantafilou took of Romney at the podium, from Ohio's up-front position on the convention floor, just in front of the podium.

When Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a veteran of about 40 years of politics, thinks about the upcoming battle for the presidency, it reminds him of 1980, when incumbent President Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan.

"I liken Obama-Romney to that,'' DeWine told WVXU Thursday. "People then didn't much like Carter, but they didn't really know Ronald Reagan - they knew he had been governor of California, was in the movies. But they didn't know that much about him."

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will make Cincinnati one of his first campaign stops after the Republican National Convention ends in Tampa tonight.

Romney is expected to hold an event Saturday at the Museum Center at Union Terminal.

The Romney/Ryan campaign said doors will open at the Museum Center at 8 a.m. Saturday and that the event will  be at 10 a.m.

Beginning Thursday night, people wishing to attend can RSVP at www.mittromney.com/states/ohio.

On Sunday, President Obama will return to Ohio for a campaign event in Toledo.

Mary Ann Christie, the former mayor of Madeira and an alternate delegate, found tears rolling down her face as she listened to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice speak to the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"I was touched by her telling her personal story, the story of her life,'' said Christie.

91.7 WVXU's political reporter, Howard Wilkinson will be conducting a live, online chat from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida beginning at Noon EDT on Thursday August 30, 2012.

To take part in the live chat, click here:

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, in a 13-minute speech before the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, blistered the Obama administration for its economic policies and got personal while talking about it.

The American dream of building a business and succeeding, Portman told a packed house at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, "is a dream I have seen up close."

Provided

Hamilton County's Republican Party chairman, Alex Triantafilou, is proud of his Greek heritage; and he's been able this week to do some bonding with some of his fellow Greek-Americans at the Republican National Committee.

Tuesday night, Triantafilou left the floor of the convention to  go up to the concourse of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the concession stands were located.

He walked by the Florida delegation and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Greek American, saw his name tag.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a quick visit to the Ohio delegation breakfast this morning, and told Ohio reporters she had no interest in a taking a job in a Romney administration.

"I term my memoirs 'No Higher Honor," because there is no higher honor than the one I held,'' said Rice, who served as secretary of state in the administration of President George W. Bush. "I am not going anywhere. I am glad to be a teacher at Stanford."

Thousands of delegates - including hundreds from Ohio - were stranded for hours after last night's session because of the shuttle bus system set up by the Republican National Committee.

Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett told the delegates at this morning's delegation breakfast that it won't happen again.

"We've got (Republican National Committee chairman) Reince Priebus with us this morning and I know a lot of you are going to want to give him an earful, but don't, because we are going to talk, and we will take care of it,'' Bennett said.

Adrien and Rick Segal of Fairfield, both honorary Ohio delegates here in Tampa, were eating eggs and sausage at the Ohio delegation breakfast Wednesday morning, talking about the excitement of being at the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the first night of the convention.

Adrien Segal was particularly impressed by the speech the nominee's wife, Ann Romney, delivered to the convention last night, telling personal stories about her life and marriage to a man who may become president.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Tuesday night gave a full house at the Republican National Convention in Tampa a glowing  report of all the good things he says have happened in Ohio since he took office, but blamed President Obama for holding the state back.

"When I came into office we were 48th in the country in job creation,'' Kasich said in an eight-minute speech to the delegates at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "We had 89 cents in our rainy day fund. Most kids have more than that in their piggy banks."

House Speaker John Boehner grew up in Reading, where his father ran a bar where he and his brothers swept the floors as kids.

Tuesday night, as speaker of the House and permanent chairman of the Republican National Convention, he started out his speech to open the evening session with a story from the bar in Reading.

"My dad and my uncles owned a bar outside of Cincinnati,'' Boehner said. "I worked there growing up, mopping floors, waiting tables. Believe me when I say I learned how to deal with every character who walked in the door.

Many of the nearly 500 Ohio delegates, alternates and guests were on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum Tuesday night wearing special "Buckeye Badges,'' hand-made by Fran DeWine, the wife of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Fran DeWine has painstakingly made the hundreds of badges for each of the last six Republican conventions.

They feature real buckeye nuts that come from the trees on the DeWine family farm near Cedarville.

"It's a lot of work, drilling through all those buckeyes,'' her husband said. "They're tough nuts."

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