Capitol might have portrait of JanklowDuring his lifetime, former governor didn’t want picture.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — It’s something he fought against until his final days of life. But plans now are taking shape to display an artist’s formal portrait of the late Bill Janklow in the state Capitol, where it would hang with paintings of the rest of South Dakota’s past governors.
The Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Commission is scheduled to discuss the matter during a meeting Friday. Under state law, the commission has oversight authority for the Capitol, other state government buildings in Pierre and the grounds.
Janklow was the only past governor who refused to submit to tradition and allow a portrait to be made for the Capitol. He was adamant and threatened to file a lawsuit against anyone who tried, even after he had left the office. His four terms and 16 years in the office (1979-86, 1995-2002) are both state records.
Janklow, 72, died Jan. 12 of brain cancer. Eleven of his staff members from when he was governor and attorney general (1975-78) have since formed a memorial committee, with his family’s permission, to raise money for two pieces of art commemorating him.
One is the official Capitol portrait. The other is a life-size statue that would be part of the new Governors Trail project in Pierre that is intended to eventually honor each of South Dakota’s governors.
Mike Mueller, a spokesman for the state Bureau of Administration that manages the buildings and grounds, said there are few details at this time regarding the plans for the portrait. What happens next depends upon the discussions Friday.
“In general, the process can take a year,” said Mueller, who is on the memorial committee and worked as a member of Janklow’s senior staff during the third and fourth terms.
There were times when Democratic legislators used Janklow’s refusal as a weapon of political satire against the Republican governor.
In one infamous news photograph, state Sen. Roger McKellips, a Democrat from Alcester whom Janklow beat for governor in 1978, can be seen testifying during a hearing on a piece of legislation that would have commissioned a portrait of Janklow.
The photo shows McKellips holding a picture of Janklow for the legislative committee in such a way that McKellips appears to be giving Janklow the middle finger.
When Janklow left office at the end of his second term in 1986, his staff purchased a 1957 silver Chevrolet convertible for him because he didn’t want a portrait.