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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.

David Pepper to be new Ohio Democratic Party chairman

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Cincinnati's David Pepper will be the new Ohio Democratic Party chairman now that his only opponent for the job has dropped out of the race.

Sharen Neuhardt, the Dayton Democrat who was the losing candidate for lieutenant governor this year, sent an e-mail to her supporters today (Monday) saying she was getting out of the race to replace state party chairman Chris Redfern. Redfern resigned after the November election, when the Democrats lost all statewide races.

Neuhardt said in her e-mail that it is time to unite the party and get on with the business of winning elections again.

“Because we need to unite our party, get on with the business of winning the Democratic convention for Columbus, and implementing our shared vision for moving the party forward and winning elections, I want each of you to know that I am withdrawing my name as a candidate,’’ Neuhardt wrote to her supporters.

Pepper, a former Cincinnati council member and Hamilton County commissioner, was the unsuccessful candidate for Ohio attorney general this year.

Pepper said he was “excited” by the opportunity to lead the party, which has been swept by the Republicans in the last two gubernatorial elections.

“We had a spirited conversation, a positive conversation about the future of the party; and it’s great to come out in the end with this position,’’ Pepper told WVXU.

“This job is not going to be easy,’’ Pepper said. “But there is a huge opportunity here – not just to win elections, but to make life better for all Ohioans.”

Neuhardt had the support of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and others. But it became clear last week that Pepper had the votes to be elected chairman of the party.

The formal vote for a new chairman will take place when the Ohio Democratic Party executive committee gathers in Columbus Tuesday night.