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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.

While We Wait For Springer To Decide, There Is A Real Election Going On

Politically Speaking

The Jerry Springer show continues.

No, not the syndicated slime-fest of a TV show that is now in its 27th season, dealing with important topics such as Mark, The Guy Who Married A Horse; David, The Kung Fu Hillbilly; Heidi, The Adult Baby; and many more far too salacious to name here.

As Springer himself says, when he is out and about and talking politics, "my show is stupid."

But all the chair-tossing and fisticuffs he's aired over the years have made the former Cincinnati mayor, council member and TV news anchor an extremely wealthy man – certainly wealthy enough to fund his own campaign for Ohio governor, or at least a good chunk of it.

Credit Howard Wilkinson / WVXU
Jerry Springer

Now, we have to wait until he makes up his mind on whether or not he is going to do it.

In the meantime, the four declared Democratic candidates for governor – Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state representative Connie Pillich of Montgomery, former Ohio Senate minority leader Joe Schiavoni and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton – are far less well-known than Springer, but they are going about their business as if he doesn't exist.

They are out raising money, gathering endorsements, traveling the states and have even already held a debate, the first of six to be sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party.

So, what do we know about Springer and his gubernatorial ambitions at this point? We know that he has:

  • Consulted with numerous Democratic strategists and party leaders, both in Ohio and Washington;
  • Paid for his own polling (although we don't know what it told him) and for focus groups of Ohio voters;
  • Has made the circuit of Democratic fundraisers for local Democratic candidates around the state, making friends and influencing people.
  • He has, as WVXU's John Kiesewetter recently reported been renewing his contract to do the TV on a year-to-year basis for some time now; and NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution would like to know soon if he wants out, so they can come up with some other fine programming to sell in its place.

"I've got to make a decision soon,'' Springer told Kiesewetter earlier this month after recording his weekly podcast at the Folk School Coffee Parlor in Ludlow, Ky.
Well, duh, Jerry.

Doesn't matter how famous you are, campaigns are marathons these days and it takes a while to crank it up. There's only a little over seven months left to the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, a long-time friend and confidante of Springer, had breakfast Wednesday in Cincinnati with the talk show host.

Burke wouldn't say a whole lot about what the two talked about, but the governor's race was part of the discussion.

"I can tell you he hasn't made up his mind yet,'' Burke said. "But I was very impressed by how interested he seems to be about this. Clearly, he's interested."

Burke said that Springer and former Ohio attorney general and state treasurer Richard Cordray are sort of in the same boat when it comes to possibly running for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor.

Cordray is the first and only director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While it is clear that Cordray is interested in the race, he can't talk about it, because of the Hatch Act, which prohibits all but the highest level of executive branch officials to talk publicly about partisan politics.

So it would appear Cordray would have to quit that job soon to come back to Ohio and run for governor. His term ends in June 2018, after the primary.

Something is going to happen on both fronts – Cordray and Springer – very soon.

Burke thinks they both have no more than a month to make up their minds.

But the people of Ohio can't sit and worry themselves to death about what Jerry Springer is or isn't going to do. There's an election coming in 44 days – an election to choose local officials and decide local and statewide issues.

In Cincinnati, it is particularly intense, with 13 candidates running for four seats on the Cincinnati Board of Education, 23 candidates running for nine seats on Cincinnati City Council and two candidates – incumbent John Cranley and challenger Yvette Simpson – running for a four-year term for mayor.

If you want to take your mind off Jerry Springer for a while, maybe you might want to stop by one of the candidate forums listed below. This is not a complete list, but it is a good sampling, if you are in the city of Cincinnati and want to see and hear candidates up close.

The list includes:

  • A ballot issue briefing sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati area, that begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church.
  • A two-part forum featuring Cincinnati City Council candidates, sponsored by the NAACP. The first, which will feature about half of the candidates will be at 6 p.m. at the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency in Bond Hill. The second, featuring the rest of the council candidates, is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the same location.
  • A Cincinnati mayoral candidates debate sponsored by the NAACP at 6 p.m. at the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency in Bond Hill.
  • And a forum for candidates for the Cincinnati Board of Education sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and several other groups. It will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8 at Mayerson Academy at 2650 Highland Ave., Avondale.

Go to one or all and learn about the candidates. Beats sitting around watching The Jerry Springer Show.