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0000017a-3b40-d913-abfe-bf44a4f90000Howard 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 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 16 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.

FitzGerald and the Democratic ticket bring bus tour to Cincinnati

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Howard Wilkinson
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Trailing in the polls and the contest for campaign dollars, Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald brought most of the statewide Democratic ticket with him Tuesday morning for a rally in Cincinnati's Washington Park, one of the last stops on a eight-city bus tour of the state.

There were about 75 supporters who showed up for the morning event, but FitzGerald sees the “Tour to Restore Ohio” as a way of making up for the lack of financial resources and drumming up enthusiasm among the Democratic base in Ohio.

“When you are at a money disadvantage, and we certainly are, it doesn’t make sense for everybody to kind of re-create the wheel on their own,’’ FitzGerald told reporters after the rally. “You look to build alliances and figure out who you have principles and issues in common with and then you work with them. That’s the way the Democratic Party has always worked.”

FitzGerald had most of the other Democratic statewide candidates with him in Cincinnati, the sixth of eight cities the Democratic campaign bus has visited since Friday.

There was Cincinnatian and Ohio attorney general candidate David Pepper, Ohio secretary of state candidate Nina Turner, Ohio auditor candidate John Patrick Carney, and Tom Letson, a Democrat running against a Republican incumbent for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and State Rep. Alicia Reece of Bond Hill were emcees for the event.

It is hard to overstate the disadvantage the FitzGerald campaign – and the rest of the Democratic statewide ticket – is facing six weeks from the Nov. 4 election. The Democrats currently hold none of the statewide constitutional offices.

FitzGerald trails in all the independent polls. The worst was the Columbus Dispatch mail poll, which had the Democrat 30 percentage points behind incumbent Republican John Kasich.

Campaign  finance reports show that Kasich has about five times as much campaign cash on hand as FitzGerald.

Still, FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, insists that he and other Democrats can pull it off.  He told WVXU that he has turned over much of the money he has to the Ohio Democratic Party and will focus on getting Ohio Democrats to take advantage of the 35-day early voting period, which begins a week from Tuesday.

“We’re going to be contacting those voters that typically vote early,’’ FitzGerald said. “You’re not going to see as many commercials for the Democratic side, but there is going to be a very targeted effort through door-to-door, phone banks, some direct mail to communicate with voters.”

The Democrat tour was to make stops in Springfield and Columbus today before winding up.

Meanwhile, Kasich was campaigning Tuesday in Richland, Columbiana and Summit counties.

Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said if there were 75 people at the Cincinnati event "that's probably the largest crowd they've had."

"It's not surprising given the fact that the top of the ticket has been an absolute disaster and nobody knows who the rest of them are,'' Schrimpf said.

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.