Janklow Indicted

Well, it appears as though my former governor has been charged with manslaughter after hitting a motorcyclist while speeding and running a stop sign.

Janklow has a history of reckless driving, and has recieved several speeding tickets over the years. Besides his lead foot, Janklow is known for his iron fist, including intimidation, verbal harrassment, and a nearly dictatorial style of running the state.

Janklow’s political career will be ended by this event, and deservedly so. More than just the accident, there are several questions that need to be asked about this incident. One is these is that Janklow was driving a car owned and insured by a third party. Under Congressional rules, members of Congress cannot take gifts. Clearly, using someone else’s car and driving under their insurance is a major violation of House ethics rules.

This is a major political scandal for the Republicans, and it is clear that Janklow can no longer serve as South Dakota’s Congressman. While under investigation for the felony charge, Janklow cannot vote in the House, and he is unlikely to return to Washington D.C. for the beginning of the next section.

Congressman Janklow should resign immediately.

In his place, Gov. Mike Rounds should appoint former Rep. John Thune to serve out the remainder of Janklow’s term until a special election to choose a successor is carried out. Thune is a person of principle who narrowly lost to Sen. Tim Johnson in 2002 (by a margin of less than 600 votes). He would be able to represent South Dakota and lead the state since Janklow cannot.

Again, Janklow’s personal recklessness and arrogance is as much a contributing cause to this incident as speed. For these reasons, he is no longer fit to serve in the US House of Representatives.

8 thoughts on “Janklow Indicted

  1. AMEN!!!!

    It’s just a shame that Congressman Bill will probably plea-bargain his sentence and get off with a fine and some jail time- it would be poetic justice if he was sent to the prison system he built. 🙂

    As for Thune going back to congress, it wouldn’t suprise me if he’s chosen to serve temporarily, but I doubt he’ll be on the ballot in the emergency election- he’s going to have his hands full with Daschle. Conservative activist Neal Tapio or Sioux Falls’ moderate former mayor Gary Hanson are more likely candidates from the Republican side, with Stephanie Herseth all but anointed by the Democrats. In a Tapio vs. Herseth election, my bets are on Herseth. Hanson vs. Herseth? With Hanson’s popularity in Sioux Falls, he’s the likely victor. But no announcements have been made yet.

  2. There are so many people who seem to think the highways are their property where they can do whatever they please with reckless disregard for everybody else. Given America’s cowboy culture where rugged individualism is celebrated above all else, we can probably assume there are hundreds of thousands more Bill Janklows a few miles up the road from us, hiding beneath their cowboy hats while driving their SUV’s and cursing the oppressive nature of activist government as they set their cruise controls on 77 miles per hour and plow through stop signs and any other barricade that may stand in the way of their perceived entitlement to personal gratification. And even with the magnitude of Janklow’s lawlessness, I don’t expect to see him in an orange jumpsuit and leg shackles anytime soon. Rich and famous white guys DON’T serve time.

    As for the political implications, it’s hard to say whether appointing Thune to fill Janklow’s seat would be a good move for the GOP or not with Thune’s Senatorial ambitions. At one level, it will keep Thune’s name in the spotlight before the campaign ads start, but would being an insider in the majority party of the current profligate Congress really be an advantage for a candidate given the disastrous policies these people have their fingerprints all over? Furthermore, would Thune really want to run with the blood-soaked baton handed to him by a murderer? It’s doubtful that too many South Dakotans will blame the GOP for Janklow’s killing spree, but if a smiling John Thune stands at the podium shaking hands with the outgoing representative when the time comes, it will certainly leave a bad taste in some voters’ mouths.

    I follow South Dakota politics marginally, but am not acutely aware of the major players Tapio, Hanson and Herseth’s strengths and weaknesses. Nicholas said Hanson is popular in Sioux Falls, a place where Democrats desperately need to be victorious (even though the new yuppie class of the city is trending GOP)if they have any hope of winning a statewide race in SD. I know Herseth gave Janklow a decent run for his money last year, particularly considering Janklow’s strength in traditionally Democrat-leaning southeastern South Dakota. Where is Herseth’s base? Even though South Dakota’s populist days are slowly coming to an end, I do think the Janklow controversy paired with the bottomless abyss GOP policy is plunging the nation into may be enough to produce an all-Democratic Congressional delegation for South Dakota next year.

  3. Well, as much as it pains me, you may be correct on your last point, although not for the same reasons.

    If Stephanie Herseth runs, she’s guaranteed two million right off the bat – $1 million from Emily’s List, and $1 million from Daschle. Even Thune would be hard-pressed to raise that kind of cash quickly.

    However, I have a feeling that a Democrat and a woman is going to have a tough time running in South Dakota, especially west river. I disagree with Herseth on many issues, but even I would have voted for her above Janklow.

    Moreover, Janklow has killed South Dakota’s Republican leadership. Gary Hanson is hardly the sharpest tool in the shed (although the current major of Sioux Falls makes him look like a genius in comparison), and Neal Tapio is a political unknown who is a far better attack dog than a candidate. Thune remains popular, and he could easily distance himself from Janklow before the special election. (Thune and Janklow don’t get along that well anyway, although Thune wisely chose not to directly challenge Janklow, thus saving himself from the inevitable Janklow character destruction.)

    South Dakota is a case where one-party rule has created a major problem with government accountability. Janklow’s personal arrogance flies in the face of the conservative doctrine of responsible and accountable government. While even I doubt they’d sent Janklow to prison, having him forever unable to have a position of authority would be a good thing for the state.

  4. Whoa- keep in mind that Janklow was a very popular politician despite his foibles (loud mouth demagogues on any side of the spectrum usually are), but even he only took 53% against Herseth, who polled ahead of him throughout the campaign season until the last two weeks before the election. Democrats in SD can often win the southeast part of the state handily if they run an effective campaign- Sioux Falls is, despite the gerrymandering of the legislative districts, a swing city, and the southeast river and college towns swing democratic to begin with. Also, even though South Dakota is only 36% Democratic, those democrats have very strong party discipline- It’s not uncommon to see up to 25% of the state’s voting Republicans to vote for a dem, while only 10% or less of the dems cross over and support the GOP. While that doesn’t even come close to achieving parity with the Republicans (who are 49% of the state’s voters), that does explain how Democrats such as Johnson and Daschle are consistently re-elected. Also, the party leadership has avoided much of the bad blood that has plagued the Republicans and split them into factions- the Thune religious right vs. the Janklow “cowboy” republicans.

    While I agree with Mark that prairie populism is dying in South Dakota, I think that it’s likely that centrist democrats have a long political future ahead of them here, especially if the state’s GOP continues with their do-nothing policies. Whether or not the strange situation of the Dems controlling the congressional delegation while the GOP runs the state can be sustained is questionable, however, and with the state’s continuing demographic shift, no one can really predict what’s going to happen.

  5. Nicholas, interesting analysis of South Dakota for poli sci junkies like me to chew on. I think the main reason prairie populism is dying in South Dakota is the fact that the farms and farm towns themselves are dying. The old people are passing away and the young people are going to college and then moving to Sioux Falls to get white-collar jobs where they become Republicans. Centrist Dems may very well be able to pick up Sioux Falls area moderates, which will be desperately needed, but the good old days of South Dakota politics (mid-60’s through mid-80’s) where populist lefties like George McGovern and Tom Daschle were electable are probably over. Back then, Sioux Falls was a staunchly Democratic meatpacking town while now it’s a yuppie-esque center-right town, all while the populists are fleeing the prairies for either the coffin or the bright lights of the city.

    As for Herseth not being electable because she’s a woman, I don’t know enough about the West River psyche to opine on that. Herseth’s primary asset and liability is not just the fact that she’s a woman, but a “hot chick”. Certain factions of the population (ahem, men) would be probably be more likely to give Herseth the benefit of the doubt while other factions (that would be women) would have a hard time taking seriously the woman whose giving her husband a boner while watching the commercials before the Wheel of Fortune bonus round. In other words, the gender gap may shrink, but not necessarily to Herseth’s overall advantage. Beyond that, West River has about a third of South Dakota voters. Besides the reservations, West River is foaming-at-the-mouth Republican, but Tim Johnson proved twice that you can get clobbered West River and still carry South Dakota. With Herseth’s Aberdeen upbringing, she should be able to solidify the populist base that hails from that area, but it’s her performance in Sioux Falls that will determine if she’s on her way to Washington.

  6. In defense of Stephanie Herseth, she’s more than just a "hot chick" – she’s also a very well-spoken and intelligent woman. I disagree with just about everything she says, but given the choice between her and Janklow, there’s really no contest. In many ways, Herseth reminds me of Jennifer Granholm, and if she were to follow Granholm’s fiscal responsibility it would be a good thing for South Dakota if she chose to run against the highly mediocre Mike Rounds. (Well, and yes, she’s also quite easy on the eyes as well, of that there’s little doubts.)

    Herseth polled *very* well among women in the last race, which is why she managed to pull Janklow’s margin of victory to where it was. Actually, it’s somewhat sexist to argue that women would feel so threatened by an attractive woman running for public office.

    You’re partially right about Sioux Falls being key to electoral victory, but remember that Sioux Falls is heavily Republican, and has a population of around 150,000 out of the nearly 800,000 people in South Dakota. You have to capture more than Sioux Falls to win in South Dakota, although you can theoretically write off the west river part of the state and still have a chance.

  7. Quick note: I don’t think governors can appoint anyone to the House, temporary or otherwise. They can with Senators, and states differ for how long the appointed Senator can serve. But for a House seat there has to be a special election whenever there is a vacancy.

    Incidentally, has anyone followed up on the fact that Janklow was driving someone else’s car?


  8. I think South Dakotans should give Tapio more of a look. He’s always had a lot of political fervor, but he is very capable of being diplomatic instead of a so called “attack dog”. He takes his politics and his love for South Dakota seriously, and I think his service to the state in either the house or the senate would be memorable. Someone would just have to tell him to wait at least until his second day in office to take on Kennedy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.