Howard Wilkinson: Politics and More

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his political blog, his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with news director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 14 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time.


The first presidential campaign television commercial ran in 1952, during the race between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. TV political advertising has changed dramatically since then, and evolved into a mix of part art, part science.

Since the 19th century, the only Democrats to lose Ohio yet win the presidency were John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. And no Republican has ever lost the state and won the White House. 

There is a reason Ohio is called the bellwether of American presidential politics – a reason why it is watched so closely by the political professionals and the pundits every year.

Ohio is a microcosm of America, except in a few demographic categories, such as the percentage of Hispanic population – 17 percent nationwide, only 3.3 percent in Ohio.

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with news director Maryanne Zeleznik this morning about the 2017 Cincinnati city elections - with three open council seats and the mayor, John Cranley, up for re-election. What's at stake for Cranley in this council race, should he win a second term? 

Let's all take a breather from Clinton-Trump, Portman-Strickland, et al, for a moment and think about the year 2017.

Specifically, let's think for a moment about the Cincinnati City Council race, where, for the second time since the city charter was changed, nine council members will be elected to four year  terms.

And let's think about the fact that one-third of those seats on city council will be  wide open; and what that might mean for Mayor John Cranley – assuming (and, really, it is way too early to be assuming anything) he is re-elected.

Michael E. Keating/WVXU

Each Friday on Cincinnati Edition we present an in-depth look at the developments behind the headlines. 

Howard Wilkinson

Cincinnati Council member Kevin Flynn said Wednesday that he won't run for a second term on city council next year, but Thursday, he left the door open just a bit to a possible return in the future.

Provided, City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Councilman Kevin Flynn will not seek re-election next year, but will serve the remainder of his term.

Howard Wilkinson

Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, told thousands of union workers at Coney Island Monday that this is a strange election, but one where they must work to make his wife, Hillary Clinton, the 45th president.

"She never got anything done in Washington- as First Lady, as senator, as Secretary of State – without the strong support from Democrats and Republicans,'' Clinton told the crowd at the annual Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council picnic.

There are those who are ready to stick a fork in the U.S. Senate campaign of former Ohio governor Ted Strickland and declare him done.

Strickland, of course, is not among them.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stood before several thousand American Legion members at Duke Energy Convention Center Thursday morning and promised that he, as president, would reform the VA medical system.

WVXU/Pete Rightmire


The first of three presidential candidate debates is just more than three weeks away. 

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in a room full of thousands of men and women who have served in the nation's military, said her opponent wants to destroy the alliances "that generations of Americans in uniform have fought and died to create those bonds."

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about Ohio Gov. John Kasich's absolute refusal to endorse Donald Trump; and how Kasich may be looking to be there to pick up the pieces and put the party back together again  if the GOP is shattered in a Trump loss. 

As much as he would have liked it to be, Ohio Gov. John Kasich's name will not be on the presidential ballot this year.

The name of Donald Trump, of course, will be on that ballot – a name that John Kasich is loath to even speak out loud, much less endorse.

The governor of the Buckeye State is left to wonder what might have been.