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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.

Kentucky political legend Wendell Ford dies at age 90

U.S. Congress

An icon of Kentucky politics, former governor and U.S. Senator Wendell Ford, has died at the age of 90 at his Owensboro home.

Ford, whose political career in Kentucky spanned four decades, was diagnosed last year with a malignancy on one of his lungs and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

The Owensboro Democrat represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the U.S. Senate for a quarter of a century, from 1974 until 1999.

He was the first Kentucky politician to serve successively as lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. Senator. He was governor of Kentucky from Dec. 1971 to Dec. 1974, before leaving to join the Senate.

Ford, with 24 years, was the longest-serving senator from Kentucky until Republican Mitch McConnell surpassed him six years ago. McConnell, now the Republican majority leader of the Senate, had tangled with Ford while they both served in the Senate, but McConnell delivered a heart-felt eulogy to Ford this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

“Wendell Ford first came to the Senate in the 1970s calling himself just a dumb country boy with dirt between his toes,’’ McConnell said on the Senate floor. “This workhorse of the Senate proved himself to be anything but.”

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who was defeated for the U.S. Senate by McConnell last fall, was very close to Ford.

“I will miss my good friend and mentor, Sen. Wendell Ford,’’ Grimes said on her Twitter account this morning. “He was a statesman and deeply loved KY and its people.”

Kentucky's junior senator, Republican Rand Paul, issued a statement offering his condolences.

"Wendell Ford loved Kentucky deeply,'' Paul said in his written statement. "He served the Commonwealth and its people for decades with honor and purpose. I am honored to sit behind the same desk and serve in the same seat as Sen. Ford, a man so dedicated to his party, our state and this country."

Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said in a written statement that he learned much from Ford over the years.

"In every office in which he served, his methods were simple,'' Beshear said. "Wendell Ford listened; he care; and he got the job done. Our state and our nation are better places for his decades of thoughtful, cooperative work to help people."