Howard Wilkinson: Politics and More

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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. 

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Four of the seven seats on the Cincinnati Board of Education are up for re-election. One incumbent, Elisa Hoffman, chose not to run again. The race has drawn a large field of candidates – three incumbents and 10 challengers.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about Rob Richardson's run for Ohio treasurer and how it is emblematic of the rise of a new generation of Ohio Democratic candidates from the Cincinnati area. 

Over the years, we have seen hundreds upon hundreds of candidates for political office who get their names on the ballot for offices big and small, and end up getting walloped on election day.

And, very often, those candidates are never heard from again. Maybe out of embarrassment at their poor showing. Maybe because they find that campaigning is too hard and not worth the effort. Or maybe just don't see any way to avoid being walloped again.

Rob Richardson, the labor lawyer and former chairman of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, is not among them.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

First Lady Barbara Bush was one of the most popular presidential spouses of my lifetime.

She was also one of the most politically savvy First Ladies we've had.

I found that out in early October 1992 in, of all places, a chili parlor in downtown Cincinnati.

She was here for the day campaigning for her husband, President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. Her husband was locked in a brutal and ultimately unsuccessful re-election campaign.

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North Korea's Foreign Minister says President Trump's tweets serve as a declaration of war, giving North Korea the right to shoot down U.S. jets, even in international airspace. The special counsel is looking into the flow of money with ties to Russia into Trump political funds. 

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WVXU politics writer Howard Wilkinson spoke with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about the origin of his off-beat politics column, Tales from the Trail, and where it is going from here. You can find Tales from the Trail here.

The Jerry Springer show continues.

No, not the syndicated slime-fest of a TV show that is now in its 27th season, dealing with important topics such as Mark, The Guy Who Married A Horse; David, The Kung Fu Hillbilly; Heidi, The Adult Baby; and many more far too salacious to name here.

As Springer himself says, when he is out and about and talking politics, "my show is stupid."

Jim Nolan / WVXU

One drawback to covering politics for a living is that you end up riding on a lot of campaign buses.

I've been a passenger on hundreds of them – some very fancy, others very plain. Some were reasonably comfortable; others were hot and sweaty and gave one the distinct impression mechanical failure was imminent and you might have to find an alternate mode of transportation.

But there was only campaign bus I rode on that was pulled over by the Ohio Highway Patrol for speeding.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about how, with seven weeks left until Election Day, the candidates for Cincinnati mayor are ramping up their efforts and their rhetoric. 

We've sort of become accustomed to candidates meeting in debates and spending as much time ripping into each other as they do talking about their own ideas.

This was not the case last Tuesday night, when the four Democrats running for Ohio governor met on a high school auditorium stage last Tuesday night in Martins Ferry, an Ohio River town in Belmont County.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Ed. note: Tales from the Trail is a column that will take you behind the scenes of politics to see some of the funny, and sometimes outright bizarre things that happen on the campaign trail, based on Howard Wilkinson's recollections of 43 years of covering politics. 

Every presidential administration has its own way of getting its message out to the American people.

That's something we expect. Something we didn't expect was presidential communication via Twitter.

But that's another story for another day.

Howard Wilkinson / WVXU

Cincinnati's mayoral candidates, incumbent John Cranley and challenger Yvette Simpson, spent an hour in a roomful of business leaders Tuesday taking rather low-keyed swipes at each other.

Their differences were over such issues as regional transportation, the streetcar, the Children's Hospital Medical Center expansion and development issues.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about the debate among the four announced Democratic candidates for Ohio governor Tuesday night; and how the possible entry of Richard Cordray and/or Jerry Springer might upset the apple cart. 

Nothing is ever certain in politics – we found that out in a bigly way in last year's presidential election – but it is highly likely that the 2018 U.S. Senate race in Ohio will be rematch of 2012.

We eschew betting in general – especially on baseball – but we would bet a dollar to a donut that, as in 2012, incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown will be facing Republican challenger Josh Mandel, the state treasurer.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Ed. note: Tales from the Trail is a column that will take you behind the scenes of politics to see some of the funny, and sometimes outright bizarre things that happen on the campaign trail, based on Howard Wilkinson's recollections of 43 years of covering politics. 

Charles P. Taft II – better known to generations of Cincinnati voters as "Charlie" – is a Cincinnati politician I never knew; he passed away in 1983, the year after I arrived in Cincinnati as an Enquirer reporter. I was one of two Enquirer reporters assigned to write his obituary. 

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The Ohio Democratic Party is waiting to see if either Richard Cordray or Jerry Springer will enter the race for governor. A study finds the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation has not properly maintained many of the 700 properties it owns.

If you live on Cincinnati's East Side, you might wonder why some of your fellow Cincinnatians on the West Side feel they need their own political action committee to influence this year's mayoral and city council races.

But they do feel the need; and what they have is POWR PAC (Partnership of Westside Residents), which has come back after an eight-year absence and is still headed by Pete Witte, the Price Hill community activist and small business owner.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Ed. note: Tales from the Trail is a column that will take you behind the scenes of politics to see some of the funny, and sometimes outright bizarre things that happen on the campaign trail, based on Howard Wilkinson's recollections of 43 years of covering politics. 

For Ohio Gov. John J. Gilligan, the Cincinnati Democrat, 1974 was supposed to be a very good year.

He was a candidate for re-election to a second term as governor, facing the former Republican governor James A. Rhodes.

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Congress returns from its August recess next Tuesday. Lawmakers will debate raising the debt ceiling. They also need to pass a funding bill by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown. And they may have to take up a funding bill to provide billions in relief aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey. President Trump traveled to Texas to view the storm's destruction Tuesday and plans to return again this week.

Cincinnati voters will choose from among 23 candidates for nine seats on Cincinnati City Council in the November election.

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WVXU politics  reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about the upcoming Cincinnati City Council election, which rivals the mayor's race in importance. There are three open seats and a strong field of challengers competing for those three seats and possibly more. 

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Ed. note: Tales from the Trail is a column that will take you behind the scenes of politics to see some of the funny, and sometimes outright bizarre things that happen on the campaign trail, based on Howard Wilkinson's recollections of 43 years of covering politics. 

This is about the time I didn't interview Bob Dole.

Sounds like a rather odd thing to write about, but stick with me; there's a pretty good story behind it.

It was the early fall of 1996. Dole, a Kansas senator,  had just stepped down as majority leader to campaign full-time for president.

There is hardly a significant campaign for high office that goes by without a fight over debates.

Will we have them? How many will have? Where will they be? What will the ground rules be?

And, in some cases, those questions never get answered – usually because of the intransigence of one candidate or another – and no debate ever happens.

But the 2018 gubernatorial race in Ohio will most certainly have debates.

In fact, there is one already scheduled.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Ed. note: Tales from the Trail is a column that will take you behind the scenes of politics to see some of the funny, and sometimes outright bizarre things that happen on the campaign trail, based on Howard Wilkinson's recollections of 43 years of covering politics. 

There aren't a whole lot of perks to being a politics reporter.

Not complaining, mind you. But it's not usually very glamorous work.

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It started with a break-in at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in 1972, and ended with the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. White House Counsel John Dean soon found himself embroiled in the Watergate scandal and eventually testified against Nixon in Congressional hearings.  Dean is in Ohio this week speaking to the Ohio State Bar Association about the lessons learned from Watergate and the parallels to the Trump White House.

City of Loveland website

Facing a recall election in November, Mark Fitzgerald resigned as Loveland's mayor at a special meeting of city council Monday night.

Once a citizens' group called Loveland Community Heartbeat, a political action committee, filed petitions last week with more than enough signatures to place the recall on the ballot, Fitzgerald had five days under Ohio election to resign or face recall in the November election.

Not to be morbid, but let's say you are an Ohioan who has passed away and is no longer with us. Should your name be removed from the voting rolls?

Yes, absolutely. This is not Chicago, after all.

Now let's say you are a registered Ohio voter and you have moved, permanently, to another state. Should your name be removed from the voting rolls in Ohio?

Yes, certainly, because you can't vote in a state where you no longer live.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Ed. note: Tales from the Trail is a column that will take you behind the scenes of politics to see some of the funny, and sometimes outright bizarre things that happen on the campaign trail, based on Howard Wilkinson's recollections of 43 years of covering politics. 

I am a recovering smoker. A recovering heavy smoker.

I smoked day and night; and nearly everything I did during the course of a day triggered the urge to light up – getting up in the morning, having my first cup of coffee, driving to work, taking a break from writing.

Everything.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with Tana Weingartner Monday about the Republicans' fundraising advantage over the Democrats in the 2018 gubernatorial race; and whether or not the field on both sides will shrink before the end of the year. 

We hope you are sitting down while reading this, because this is astounding news:

Republicans running for governor in Ohio have more money than Democrats running for governor. Way more.

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