Politics

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Jim Nolan / WVXU

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.

Pete Rightmire/WVXU

The federal government shuts down, and then re-opens, at least for another couple of weeks. President Trump and some members of congress accuse the FBI of bias and hint there is evidence of a "secret society" within the agency. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is questioned by the special counsel’s office as the investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election continues. And President Trump is scheduled to make his first State of the Union Address next Tuesday.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about how Republican Jim Renacci's switching from the governor's race to the U.S. Senate race changes the dynamics of the GOP's plans of unseating incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown. 

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.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

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.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Last week, Tales from the Trail introduced you to some famous eateries that have become must-stops for candidates running for office in Ohio – from candidates for county offices to the presidency. There are so many such places in Ohio, dishing out chili, piergoies, ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers that we felt a "part two" was needed. And, in fact, there are so many, that Tales From the Trail may revisit the subject in the future. Here are some more dining spots that make up the political map of Ohio:

Price Hill Chili, Cincinnati

U.S. Congress

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with New Director Maryanne Zeleznik about the life and career of former Cincinnati mayor and congressman Thomas A. Luken, who died Wednesday at the age of 92.

Tana Weingartner

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor has reached beyond the stable of professional politicians to choose Nathan Estruth, a Cincinnati-area businessman and social activist as her running mate.

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Political commentators often describe President Trump as either a populist or a nationalist. Many Americans were unfamiliar with the two terms until the presidential election, but populism and nationalism have a long history here and in other countries.

This may sound like crazy talk, but there are some out there in Democratic circles – both here and in Washington – who believe Ohio's 1st Congressional District will be in play in 2018.

Taking on Republican Steve Chabot, the Westwood Republican who has represented Ohio's 1st Congressional district for all but two of the past 23 years, seems, on the surface at least, to be Mission Impossible.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Food and good places to eat are the one constant of running for public office in Ohio. Every city and town, it seems, has a restaurant, a diner, a hamburger stand that is a candidate-magnet. I've been in dozens of them in every corner of the state. This is part one of a two-part Tales from the Trail on my memories of dining on the campaign trail. Part two will follow next Saturday.

The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe, Greenville

On Tuesday morning, at Music Hall, Cincinnati's re-elected mayor and the nine council members elected in November will take their oaths of office for four year terms.

Six of those council members will be incumbents returning for a final term on council before the term limits law kicks in. Three will be brand-new council members, two of which won as first-time candidates.

On the surface, it may not look as if much has changed.

"On the surface" is the operable phrase there.

Let’s look at the newcomers and the people whose seats they will be taking.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

I write this in the form of a confession.

The bad news is that I was once guilty of creating fake news.

The good news is I was only 13 years old.

Back when we were kids, growing up on the east side of Dayton, my buddy Mike and I put together a whopper of a scam that was meant to prank none other than the U.S. Air Force – specifically, Project Blue Book, the Air Force's long-standing program to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.

Reporting sightings of strange things in the skies was all the rage in the 1950s and 1960s.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

There are some invitations to Christmas parties and holiday gatherings where you can thank the person inviting you and send your regrets for not being able to attend.

You might feel bad about it, but there's only so much time and so many places you can be.

In November 2009, I received one where "regrets" was not an option.

An invitation to the White House holiday party for print reporters.

Pete Rightmire/WVXU

This week President Trump presented his National Security Strategy, calling Russia and China U.S. rivals and Iran and North Korea rogue states. A massive GOP tax overhaul unpopular with approximately 50 percent of Americans is headed into law. Congress addresses further accusations of sexual harassment as some senators backtrack on their earlier call for Al Franken to resign. And the Russian investigation moves forward. 

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about Mayor John Cranley's naming of Christopher Smitherman as vice mayor and David Mann as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. Does the Smitherman choice have implications for the 2021 mayor's race, when Cranley will be term-limited out? 

We're not here to say that the pairing of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Cincinnati council member Amy Murray is not going to work.  

Jim Nolan / WVXU

Jim Rhodes, the late four-term governor of Ohio, could be a real pain in the neck.

He could also be a very funny man, in a Rhodesian, Southern Ohio kind of way.

I remember two days, both at the Ohio State Fair, where I experienced both Jims.

The first time was in 1994 and the second in 1998, long after Rhodes left office. Rhodes was getting up in years and couldn't walk the fairgrounds the way he did in the old days, when he was the grand poobah and chief architect of the annual summer event in Columbus.

Provided

Charlie Winburn first served on Cincinnati's City Council from 1993 to 2001, then returned to council in 2009. The Republican leaves office at the end of this month due to term limits. He will continue serving as Executive Pastor of Renew Community Church and as a life coach.

Provided

Kevin Flynn is leaving Cincinnati City Council at the end of this month after serving one four-year term. Flynn is an attorney with the law firm of Griffin Fletcher & Herndon LLP. A member of Cincinnati's Charter Party, or Charter Committee, he is the only council member to attend every council meeting and special session since December, 2013. While Flynn could have run for another term this year, he announced as early as fall of last year that he would not seek re-election.

Howard Wilkinson / WVXU

Updated 1 p.m.

Republican Cincinnati council member Amy Murray is teaming up with gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci as his running mate.

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WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill and his declared candidacy for Ohio governor. Can O'Neill continue to sit on the bench and be a partisan political candidate? Many are saying no, but O'Neill, the only Democrat on the court, says he won't resign until Jan. 26. 

Until recently former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray had been stuck in political limbo for what seemed like an eternity, unable, by federal law, to even hint at his ambition to be Ohio's next governor.

The Grove City Democrat was serving as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with a six-year term that was to have expired in June 2018.

The Hatch Act, which prohibits most federal employees from engaging in partisan politics, kept Cordray quiet about his ambitions, even though everyone in Ohio knew he had them burning inside him.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

I'm writing this for those of you who may be just out of college and looking for a job; or those who a bit older but who are looking for a change of scenery in the workplace.

It is the story of how you can do something incredibly stupid in the middle of a job interview and still get the job.

Not that I recommend this method, mind you. But I am proof positive that it can be done.

Allow me to explain:

Howard Wilkinson

The late Bobbie Sterne's legacy as a Cincinnati council member and mayor was remembered by hundreds of her friends Wednesday at Memorial Hall.

Ohioans elect a new governor in 2018. The four official Democratic candidates vying to become Ohio's next governor are participating in a live debate from Cleveland.

The following candidates are participating in this hour-long debate: Connie Pillich, Joe Schiavoni, Betty Sutton, Nan Whaley. The debate is moderated by Karen Kasler, bureau chief, Ohio Public Radio Television Statehouse News Bureau and Russ Mitchell, anchor WKYC Channel 3 News.

It's not quite time to break out the noisemakers and drop the balloons in celebration, but Hamilton County Democrats could do something in 2018 that hasn't been done in the lifetime of anyone reading this column.

They could end up holding all three seats on the Hamilton County Board of County commissioners.

Todd Portune's not going away anytime soon; Denise Driehaus just arrived earlier this year; and neither of them are up for re-election until 2020.

Jim Nolan / WVXU

If you are what we euphemistically like to call a "veteran" Reds fan, you no doubt remember watching the sixth game of the 1975 World Series between the Big Red Machine and the Boston Red Sox.

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North Korea claims it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, able to strike anywhere in the United States. Congress works to extend government funding before a December 8 deadline to avoid a shutdown as Republicans push their tax plan to passage. A fight over the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau goes to the courts. 

WVXU

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday morning about the life of a Cincinnati political icon, former council member and mayor Bobbie Sterne, who died last week at the age of 97. She was a kind and gracious person who was passionate about the issues she cared about. She had been an Army nurse on the beaches of Normandy during World War II, so there was nothing that could happen at Cincinnati City Hall that could rattle her. 

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