Howard Wilkinson

Senior Political Analyst

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.

In 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists inducted Wilkinson into the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame. 

In 2019, Wilkinson was named Senior Political Analyst for Cincinnati Public Radio as he retired from fulltime employment. He will continue to appear on  Cincinnati Edition, write blogs on politics and his popular Tales from the Trail, all available on

Ways to Connect

Cory Sharber / WVXU

Issue 3, the ballot issue that would have committed the city of Cincinnati to placing $50 million a year into an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, was crushed by city voters Tuesday, with only 27% voting yes.

sherrod brown mike dewine baseball
Amy Sancetta, Gary Landers / AP

Most people who know me well know that I am not just a political junkie who has made a living for decades covering candidates and elections for newspapers and radio.

aftab pureval david mann
Courtesy of the candidates

In an election with just 15.6% turnout, Cincinnati voters have chosen from a field of six mayoral candidates the two who are complete polar opposites – Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval and Council Member David Mann.

Every year since 1974, the year I started covering politics, people have been asking me the same question over and over and over again on the day before an election:

So, who's going to win?

steve chabot
John Minchillo / AP

The news this week that Rep. Steve Chabot's long-time political strategist and campaign manager Jamie Schwartz was charged by the feds with embezzling $1.4 million from Chabot's campaign fund was a great big, heaping helping of irony, slathered in a glaze of hypocrisy.

early voting
Aaron Doster / AP

Is Ohio headed to become the new Georgia when it comes to Republican legislators making it harder for Democrats – particularly Black and urban Democrats – to cast ballots?

david mann christopher smitherman
Mann for Mayor / Facebook

I have known Cincinnati mayoral candidate David Mann for nearly 40 years – as a City Council member, as mayor, as a one-term congressman, and as an old-fashioned Democratic liberal.

pearl harbor uss arizona

Over the years, I have walked many a Civil War battlefield, from Gettysburg to Shiloh to Antietam; and, as I walk, I always stop and ponder the "witness trees" – the massive old trees that were actually there in the 1860s and witnessed the battle.

Courtesy of Nan Whaley

Well, this could be awkward.

Two long-time friends and political allies, two Democratic mayors of neighboring cities, running against each other for the 2022 nomination for Ohio governor.

Jay Hanselman / WVXU

So how did Cincinnati end up with the council-manager form of government, where a professional city manager runs the day-to-day operations and a nine-member council sets policy?

no issue 3 demonstrators
No on Issue 3 Campaign / Facebook

I thought I had seen it all in almost a half century of covering politics, but I can't say I've ever seen anything quite like what is going on in the campaign to defeat Issue 3, the Cincinnati charter amendment that would require the city to put $50 million a year into an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

john boehner jim jordan
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

It was only a matter of time before the former House Speaker John Boehner, raised in blue-collar Reading and now living in a gated community in West Chester Township, would simply just blow his top.

2001 cincinnati riots
Tom Uhlman / AP

Some people think the tensions between Cincinnati's Black community and the city's police force began on a night in April 2001, when a white police officer chased a 19-year-old Black man into a dark Over-the-Rhine alleyway and killed him with a single shot to the heart.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Michael E. Keating / WVXU

Seven years ago, just before Reds' Opening Day, my old friend Michael E. Keating and I put together this ode to Great American Ball Park, a dead place during the long, harsh winter, but one that comes to back to life on Opening Day, a Cincinnati holiday.

nan whaley
John Minchillo / AP

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has probably been asked the question 1,000 times since the 45-year-old Democrat announced in January that she won't run for a third term as Dayton's mayor: Are you going to run for Ohio governor in 2022?


It took a public corruption of major proportions to bring Cincinnati's Charter Committee out of its decades-long slumber.

But Charter is back in a big way, harkening back to its roots as the force which, in the 1920s, drove the corrupt political bosses out of power and helped establish "good government" in Cincinnati, in the council-manager form of government.

tim ryan amy acton
Robert F. Bukaty, Tony Dejak / AP

Neither Tim Ryan nor Dr. Amy Acton have said whether they will run in next spring's primary for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat.

But if they do, they have friends ready to help.

council cincinnatus
Michael Keating / WVXU

Cincinnati's Charter Committee – the independent political party that has fashioned itself to be the watchdog for "good government" in the city – is going back to its roots.

marian spencer
Courtesy of the University of Cincinnati

How nice that the Cincinnati Democratic Committee says it does not want to confuse voters in the Cincinnati City Council and school board elections this year.

How odd, though, that they think having their endorsed candidates be cross-endorsed by the Charter Committee (or any other political party) would confuse the voters.


Aftab Pureval, Cecil Thomas, David Mann.

Those are your top tier candidates in the May 4 Cincinnati mayoral primary. Not necessarily in that order.

And only two of them can survive the primary.

snow blizzard

Winter is upon us and, although I don't know about you, I am not one bit happy about it.

city hall
Wikimedia Commons

Nine candidates filed petitions by Thursday's deadline for the May 4 Cincinnati mayoral primary.

If they all qualify for the primary ballot, it will be a record number of candidates since Cincinnati went to the direct election of the mayor in 2001. The previous record was seven in 2005.  

jane timken josh mandel
Julie Carr Smyth, Phil Long / AP

The two early favorites for the 2022 GOP nomination for U.S. Senate – former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken and former state treasurer Josh Mandel – have been trying to one-up each other lately to prove who has the most undying loyalty to former President Donald Trump.

amy acton
Tony Dejak / AP

So, is the notion of Dr. Amy Acton as a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate realistic?

ohio clock
Jose Luis Magana / AP

There are two things the voters of Ohio have never done – elect an African American or a woman to the United States Senate.

You can't blame the voters of the Buckeye State for this. No African American has been the nominee of either major political party for a Senate seat; and only one woman – a white woman – has run. And she lost the general election.

tim ryan
Robert F. Bukaty / AP

He's really doing it this time.

Tim Ryan, the longtime Democratic congressman from the Mahoning Valley, will run for the U.S. Senate in 2022.

jane timken josh mandel
Julie Carr Smyth, Phil Long / AP

Jane Timken, the Canton conservative who was hand-picked by Donald Trump to become Ohio Republican Party chair in 2017, and Josh Mandel, the former state treasurer from Northeast Ohio who ran unsuccessfully against Democrat Sherrod Brown for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

That, to me, is the most likely 2022 primary match-up on the Republican side for the Senate seat now held by Rob Portman, who is taking a pass on running for a third term.

Updated: 4:13 p.m.

Now that Rob Portman has taken himself out of the picture for a run for a third term, a brawl may be brewing in Ohio Republican circles to take his place.  

rob portman
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In one very important way, it is not at all surprising that Rob Portman has decided to end his long career on Capitol Hill after two terms in the Senate.

city hall
Bill Rinehart / WVXU

You may find this hard to believe, but as of Wednesday, 75 people had gone to the Hamilton County Board of Elections and picked up petitions to run for Cincinnati City Council this year.