Rounds opines on fellow politiciansGov. Mike Rounds offered capsule comments on some of the high-profile politicians he worked with during his eight years as governor:
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Gov. Mike Rounds offered capsule comments on some of the high-profile politicians he worked with during his eight years as governor:
Rounds said the two governors had “a very good working relationship” and he often spoke with Janklow during the past eight years. He said Janklow, who served 16 years as governor from 1979-87 and 1995-2003, offered sound advice but “gave me plenty of space.”
Janklow’s political career came to a halt after he struck and killed a motorcyclist in 2003 and then resigned in early 2004.
Rounds referred to the “unfortunate circumstances” that led to the end of Janklow’s sole term in the U.S. House.
“It saddened me that that happened,” he said. “Not only the loss of a life but the loss of a very good man in Washington, D.C., as well.”
He said the fatal crash, while tragic, will be a “footnote” in Janklow’s story, calling him “a figure to be reckoned with in history.”
Rounds said he admired Daschle’s love for and commitment to the state.
“Tom was clearly the leader of the Democrat Party in D.C. at the time,” he said. “He was a strong advocate for the principles of his party but when it came to South Dakota activity, I felt very good on his relationship on South Dakota, South Dakota projects.”
Rounds said he always felt he could call Daschle and ask for his assistance, even though the former senator didn’t move back to his home state.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he could be there,” Rounds said. “That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for South Dakota, because he does.”
“We have a very good working relationship,” Rounds said. “We still stay in touch.”
He said he considers Johnson, a Democrat, a friend and has talked with him about the underground science lab as well as other issues.
On Dec. 13, 2006, Johnson suffered bleeding in the brain caused by a cerebral arteriovenous malformation. The senator’s health was greatly affected by the stroke-like condition and he was unable to perform his duties for several months.
Rounds said he never compiled a list of possible replacements for Johnson, nor was he interested in the job himself. He said he told his staff he didn’t want the issue discussed while a sitting senator and “our friend” was “fighting for his life.”
“I was not going to participate in discussion as if he had died,” Rounds said.
Johnson wished Rounds well as he leaves office and thanked him for the courtesy shown during his illness.
“I appreciated the kind words and prayers from Governor Rounds during that difficult time,” he said.
“We haven’t always agreed on every issue, but we were able to work together on South Dakota priorities to make sure our state was well represented,” Johnson said. “I wish him and Jean well as they begin this next chapter.”
“We’ve been good friends,” Rounds said.
Rounds said in 2001, he talked about political futures with Thune. At the time, Thune was the state’s sole congressman and was considering a run for governor in 2002.
Rounds said he was pondering a run for the Senate.
In the end, Thune ran against Johnson and lost a razor-close Senate race while Rounds was elected governor. In 2004, Thune defeated Daschle for the first of his two Senate terms.
Rounds said Thune is an “up-and-coming solid figure” in GOP politics and he wouldn’t be surprised if he mounts a strong campaign for president. He said he has discussed Thune’s political future with him privately but didn’t care to disclose what he told him.
Thune had high praise for the departing governor.
“Governor Rounds’ leadership was a source of great stability for South Dakota over the past eight years,” he said.
“From his commitment to the Homestake Mine, to the South Dakota National Guard, Governor Rounds’ dedication to the success of our state was readily apparent,” Thune said. “He has a deep respect for our veterans and was a pivotal force in organizing the Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Ceremony.
“His ability to closely identify with the traditions of our state, including pheasant hunting, walleye fishing, and recreation on the Missouri River, enabled him to reach beyond the office of the governor and connect with people outside of the political arena,” he said.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin:
Rounds said he spoke with the former congresswoman after she lost to Kristi Noem in the Nov. 2 election. He told Herseth Sandlin he appreciated all she had done for the state and wished her the best.
While he said he has no idea if she will run for office again, he said at 40, it seems unlikely she is done with politics.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if she took a look at public service in the future,” he said.
Rounds said his father was friends with Herseth Sandlin’s father, Lars Herseth, a longtime legislator who was the Democratic candidate for governor in 1986. The elder Rounds once mistakenly slammed a car door on Lars Herseth’s hand and the two men joked about it for years.
Mike Rounds later served in the Senate with Lars Herseth and respected him.
Rounds said he worked with Noem during her two terms in the state House and wasn’t surprised to see her rise to prominence.
Noem was elected to a freshman leadership position in the U.S. House Republican caucus and has already made some appearances on the national stage. Rounds said that didn’t shock him.
“Not really,” he said. “We grow them pretty good here in South Dakota.”
Rounds said Noem’s rapid rise to the top of South Dakota politics doesn’t mean she is a potential rival of his down the road. He said she promises to be a strong advocate for the state.
Noem said the departing governor had done his job well.
“It was an honor to serve in Pierre with Governor Rounds,” she said. “South Dakotans will remember Governor Rounds for his steady leadership during both good and lean budgetary cycles.
“His focus on economic development, including the Sanford lab, will hopefully help create jobs for generations to come,” Noem said.