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. 

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Former Hamilton County commissioner and Cincinnati councilman David Pepper has launched his campaign to unseat Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Monday, his campaign filed papers with the Ohio Secretary of State's office, so he can begin raising money for the 2014 campaign; and has launched a campaign website.

Pepper, who was in Cleveland Monday, told WVXU he wants "to be a real advocate for the working people of Ohio."

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Howard Wilkinson talks about Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's lack of popularity in his home state and what that could mean for his reelection bid.

So, is the election system in Hamilton County rife with fraud, with people voting twice and voting from fictitious locations and even casting ballots for dead people?

Well, yes and no.

Over the past several months, the Hamilton County Board of Elections has investigated dozens of cases of what they have called “voter anomalies.” But not enough to change the results of the election; and apparently not in any organized way.

Republicans and Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections are split over a county prosecutor’s opinion which says dozens of voters who cast two ballots in last year’s election should be referred for potential criminal prosecution – even though the board has already exonerated most of them.

Near the end of a board meeting that last three-and-a-half hours Wednesday, the two Democrats and two Republicans on the board discussed  an opinion from Prosecutor Joe Deters, but decided not to actually vote on whether  approximately 67 cases should be sent to the prosecutor.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is going to have his hands full running for re-election in Kentucky next year, according to a poll released Tuesday.

And the same poll showed the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, is far more popular among Kentucky voters than McConnell, the leader of Senate Republicans.

Beyond Civility

Beyond Civility, an organization that promotes civil discourse and understanding among people with differing political views, has something different planned for the next discussion in its "Back-to-Back" series - a debate on issues between a Democratic legislator and a former Republican lawmaker.

State Rep. Denise Driehaus, a Clifton Democrat, and former state senator and representative Lou Blessing, a Colerain Township Republican, will "present their opposing parties' arguments on some of the hot button public policy issues of the day."

Hamilton County Republican Party

A first-time candidate, businesswoman Melissa Wegman of East Price Hill, will kick off her campaign for a seat on Cincinnati City Council with a reception Thursday at the Incline Public House in her home neighborhood.

Wegman - who is vice president of The Wegman Company, a commercial furniture services company - is a first time candidate for elective office; and she will run with an endorsement from the Hamilton County Republican Party, according to GOP county chairman Alex Triantafilou.

Ohio's 8th District Congressman and Speaker of the House, John Boehner had no competition last year, but in 2014 he will have Democratic opposition.  WVXU Political Reporter,  Howard Wilkinson talks with Maryanne Zeleznik about this new candidate.

Andrew Hounshell of Middletown is no career politician; he’s a steel worker, an Army veteran and father of three-year-old triplets. A self-described regular guy.

And now he is about to try to climb one of the highest mountains in politics – running for the 8th Congressional District seat held by the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

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Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul, finished third among a group of eight potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, according to a poll released this week.

The Quinnipiac University poll showed among 712 voters who described themselves as Republicans Paul had 15 percent support for the GOP nomination, bested only by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (19 percent) and the 2012 vice presidential nominee, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan (17 percent).

This week Howard talks baseball with Jay Hanselman.

Rhodes-Klumpe Collection/Reds Hall of Fame

Somewhere in Great American Ball Park today, there will be many a little boy or little girl, dressed in red from head to toe, bundled up in Reds blanket, watching in awe at his or her first Opening Day.

Seeing their heroes play on the green grass – Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and the rest.

They will be sitting next to a mother or father, who had their own childhood heroes – the wire-to-wire, World Series champion Reds – thinking of their own childhood heroes – Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Chris Sabo.

Ashley Judd, actress and activist, after months of speculation and a lot of conversations with political consultants and pollsters, tweeted out her intentions this week.

She will not be a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The Kentucky Democratic Party will have to find someone else to take on Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

So much for that. That political bubble burst pretty quickly.

Democratic party leaders in Kentucky did not appear to be shedding any tears.

Here's how it works:

The magic number is 8,522.

That is how many valid signatures of voters in the city of Cincinnati that opponents of the ordinance to lease out Cincinnati parking meters and garages need to place a referendum on the ordinance on the November ballot.

The petitions are filed with the city finance director. Amy Murray, a Republican city council candidate who is one of the leaders of the petition drive, said they plan to submit their signatures to the finance director on Tuesday of next week.

A 75-year-old Symmes Township man charged with illegally casting an absentee ballot for his deceased wife last fall has asked a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge to place him in a diversion program, thus avoiding jail time.

Russell Glossop was charged with voter fraud after mailing in an absentee for his wife, Betty Ann Glossop, who died on Oct. 1 last year. She had requested an absentee ballot in August. The absentee ballots were not mailed out until Oct. 4, three days after her death.

Glossop is one of three persons charged with voter fraud.