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. 

So, it appears there will be no referendum on the city of Cincinnati’s parking lease agreement on the ballot this fall.


Unless, that is, in the unlikely event that the Ohio Supreme Court decides to take up the appeal of the decision made by the Ohio First District Court of Appeals this week saying the agreement is not subject to referendum because it was passed in March as an emergency ordinance.


But nobody on either side of this really expects this to happen.

Sarah Ramsey

Cincinnati council member Christopher Smitherman will step down as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP while he is running for re-election to council.

A number of members of the local chapter have urged Smitherman to leave the NAACP presidency while running for office. In a statement released Friday, Smitherman said he was doing so under a policy adopted by the NAACP's national board of directors in 1968.

Michael Keating

Howard Wilkinson's weekly political chat for June 10, 2013.

Cincinnati Bar Association

Eugene Ruehlmann, who was mayor of Cincinnati in the late 1960s and early 1970s, died Saturday night at the age of 88.

Mr. Ruehlmann, a lawyer who was first elected to council in 1959, served through 1971. During his last four years on council, his Republican council colleagues elected him mayor; and he is credited with working to put together the deal that led to the construction of a new stadium on the riverfront and helping to bring professional football to the city.

Poor old Cincinnati Republicans.


They don’t have a mayoral candidate of their own.


There’s John Cranley, Democrat. Roxanne Qualls, Democrat. Jim Berns, Libertarian. And probably a couple more before the June 27 filing deadline for the September 10 mayoral primary.


But nary a Republican.

Sarah Ramsey

The Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council has endorsed for re-election all the Democratic incumbents on Cincinnati City Council except one - Laure Quinlivan.

Quinlivan is convinced it is because she ran afoul of Firefighters Union Local 48 in the recent debate over the city budget, where she argued that police and fire services should be subject to the same kind of budget-cutting as other city services; and suggested that police and firefighters should be paying more for their health insurance coverage.

A good old-fashioned family fight is a frequent occurrence in the Democratic Party, but this year's race for Cincinnati mayor won't be one of them.

The party leadership, in a recent blast e-mail to the party faithful made it clear they won't be taking sides in the battle between two Democratic mayoral candidates - Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and former council member John Cranley.

Caleb Faux, the Hamilton County Democratic Party's executive director, said neither candidate has asked the party for an endorsement.

Two more persons suspected of illegal voting in the November 2012 election were referred to the Hamilton County prosecutor Monday morning by the Hamilton County Board of Elections.


Referred to the prosecutor were Lakeisha M. Watkins, a 41-year-old woman who cast a provisional ballot in Colerain precinct  W on election day and then voted in her former precinct, Colerain GG. Board of Elections officials tried to contact the woman and was told that she lives in Boston.

Michael Keating

Cincinnati has a new budget, but some compromises made could play a bit part in this fall's Council and Mayor's race.  Howard Wilkinson shares his thoughts.

Yes, the Cincinnati mayor’s race is the big-ticket item on this November’s ballot.


But there is a Cincinnati City Council race too, and there are going to be some serious choices for Cincinnati voters to make when it comes to picking nine people to set the policy for the city for the next four years.


Yes, four years. Since the late 1920s, council has had two year terms; but that changes with this election because of a charter amendment passed by voters last year.

Ohio Government Website

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has broken a tie vote on the Hamilton County Board of Elections, sending 39 more cases of persons alleged to have voted twice in the 2012 election to the county prosecutor for possible criminal prosecution.

"These cases should be investigated,'' Husted told WVXU. "It does not necessarily mean people will be indicted and prosecuted. But the elections system does not have the capability to investigate all of these; and the county prosecutor does."

Official Portrait

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, has been working behind the scenes to clear the way for the renomination of an Ohio Democrat, Richard Cordray, as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a story in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Senate Republicans have thus far refused to move on President Obama's renomination of Cordray, a former Ohio treasurer and attorney general, along with a number of other presidential appointments.

Howard Wilkinson

Melowese Richardson, the Madisonville poll worker accused for voting illegally for herself and others over three elections, entered no contest pleas in court this morning to four of the eight charges against her.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman accepted the plea bargain reached between Richardson's attorney and assistant county prosecutor William Anderson and found Richardson guilty of four counts of illegal voting.

The other four counts were dismissed.

The 2014 slate of Democratic candidates for Ohio’s statewide offices is not exactly set in stone, but it is getting pretty close.


Why so early, you ask?


Well, when you have been beaten like a rented mule in the 2010 statewide elections, as the Ohio Democratic Party was, there is no such thing as being too early out of the gate.

Michael Keating

This week Howard Wilkinson talks about Connie Pillich running for state treasurer and the latest on the voter fraud cases in Hamilton county.

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State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Democrat from Montgomery, announced this morning she will take on Republican incumbent Josh Mandel for the Ohio treasurer's office in 2014.

Pillich, who represents the 28th Ohio House District in northern Hamilton County, won re-election last year after Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly had re-drawn her district to make it considerably more Republican.

She is a third term state representative, a retired captain in the U.S. Air Force, and a lawyer.

So far, during the months of investigation into alleged voter fraud in the 2012 election, the two Republicans and two Democrats on the Hamilton County Board of Elections have, for the most part, played nice, with partisan bickering down to a minimum.


That could change very quickly Wednesday morning, when the board of elections next meets.


That’s when the board will take up the issue of whether to refer more cases of alleged “voter  anomalies” – that is the polite word they have been using for cases of alleged voter fraud – to the Hamilton County prosecutor.

Three more persons have been indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury on charges of illegally voting in the November 2012 election, bringing the number charged with vote fraud up to six so far.


Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the indictments Tuesday, saying, if convicted, they face the possibility of up to 18 months in prison.


They were among six cases referred to the prosecutor by the Hamilton County Board of Elections so far in a widespread investigation of vote fraud in last fall’s election.


The three indicted Tuesday are:

Provided

Now that the Cincinnati Democratic Committee has endorsed 10 Cincinnati City Council candidates, the trick for the party will be to let loyal Democrats know that they can only vote for nine of them.


“Yes, we need to develop a message on that,’’ said Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke said. “And, yes, it is a highly unusual situation.”


What happened was this:

Tuesday is a primary election day in Ohio, but voters in many townships, villages and cities in southwest Ohio won’t have anything to vote on.


The candidate races and ballot issues in southwest Ohio counties are few and far between – in fact, in Butler County, there is no election at all.


In Hamilton County, only 129 of the county’s 545 precincts will be up and running Tuesday, according to Amy Searcy, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. The 129 precincts are in 87 polling places.

It is entirely possible that, this November, two immovable objects will collide on the ballot in Cincinnati.


There is, unless the appeals court intervenes, every likelihood that the referendum to repeal the parking lease passed by Cincinnati City Council will be on the ballot – opponents of the lease plan came up with thousands more signatures than they needed to qualify for the ballot.


And there is a Cincinnati City Council election, with all nine seats up for grabs.

photo by Michael Keating

WVXU political reporter Howard Wilkinson talks about why Cincinnati Council Candidate David Mann is asking the Cincinnati Democratic committee again for an endorsement.  He'll also talk about Mitch McConnell fighting for his Senate seat in Kentucky. 

If you are an incumbent elected official and you are facing re-election, with dismal looking poll numbers and a potentially difficult challenger looming on the horizon, there is one thing you are likely to do.


Knock that challenger down a notch or two before he or she even gets in the race.


This is the situation where Kentucky’s senior senator, Republican Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate minority leader, finds himself.

campaign website

Former Cincinnati mayor and congressman David Mann was snubbed by the Cincinnati Democratic Committee's nominating committee for an endorsement of his city council campaign, but he is not taking it lying down.

Mann sent a letter Friday to the full membership of the Cincinnati Democratic Committee (CDC), which will meet Saturday, May 4th at the Letter Carriers Hall in Northside to vote on the nominating committee's recommendations.

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, the Westwood Republican, wrote a strongly-worded blog posting Monday blaming the Boston bombings on “Muslim Jihadists” and accusing the Obama administration of trying to cover it up.

“These weren’t a couple of disgruntled Methodists who set off pressure cooker bombs in an attempt to kill and injure as many infidels as possible,’’ Chabot wrote on his blog. “They were Chechen radicalized Islamists who hated America, the country that had generously taken them in, clothed them, fed them and educated them.”

Campaign website

Kevin Johnson, a West End business owner and aide to former council member Laketa Cole, didn't get the nominating committee's recommendation for a Democratic party endorsement, but he is running for Cincinnati City Council anyway.

Johnson will kick off his campaign at 6 p.m. Thursday at Sonny's All Blues Cafe, 4040 Reading Rd., North Avondale.

Johnson said, years ago, that is where he had a conversation with former Cincinnati mayor Dwight Tillery that "set my life on a different path. I trace my passion for public service back to that day."

Campaign website

Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, is expected to formally announce his candidacy for Ohio governor Wednesday at stops in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati event takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Laborers' Local Union Hall at 3457 Montgomery Rd. in Evanston. RSVPs for all three events can be made here.

Michael Keating

This morning Howard Wilkinson talks about endorsements in the Cincinnati City Council race.

Gay marriage and guns.


Two issues, so completely different from one another, and yet they have defined Ohio’s junior senator, Rob Portman, in 2013.


Pundits and politicians alike are pondering how the Terrace Park Republican’s positions on these hot-button issues will impact his chances for re-election in 2016.


2016 seems to be a long way away; but, in politics, it is never too early to start thinking about the next election.

The Democratic Party's nominating committee has recommended a slate of nine Cincinnati City Council candidates that does not include a former mayor and councilman - David Mann - who is running again 21 years after leaving council.

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