Howard Wilkinson

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Meet Howard Wilkinson

Feb 12, 2018

It’s well known that WVXU's Political Reporter Howard Wilkinson is a HUGE Red’s fan. And that he loves talking politics is just a given. But, what does he do in the off season? And, does he have a favorite food?

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 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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.