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Former GOP Chairman: 'Janklow Was My Brother'

January 12, 2012, 6:10 PM by Brady Mallory

Former GOP Chairman: 'Janklow Was My Brother'
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Former Chairman for the South Dakota Republican Party Joel Rosenthal worked alongside the former governor for years and really got to know him well.  He said the relationship was much more than just co-workers.  Rosenthal called Janklow his brother.

In fact, some of his favorite memories of the former governor were outside of the office.

"I traveled with him in the state quite a bit. We were family friends for a long time. He offered me a lot of guidance and I learned a lot. I really learned a lot from him. I'm going to miss him. I wouldn't be where I am without him," Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal started working for Janklow in the 1970s, but he says he really got to know him during his 1982 re-election efforts.

"And then he sort of recruited me to become state chairman because of my so-called political skills," Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal served as state chairman from 1985 to 1989 and then 1995 to 2003.  As his friend and colleague, he said Janklow transformed South Dakota focusing on the economy, elderly rights and education.

"In 1979, he became governor, state funding for K-12 was probably a little shy of 30 percent. When he left office in 2003, probably 54-55-percent of state funding was for K-12 education," Rosenthal said.

Calling himself a fly on the wall, Rosenthal said he soaked up Janklow's political and business knowledge. Though Janklow had a reputation for being confrontational, Rosenthal said it came from the heart because he was passionate about what he believed in.

"If you didn't agree with him that was ok. But, if you were stupid, he couldn't tolerate you," Rosenthal said. 

That is the man he remembers in Janklow. Not the politician, but the man who cared about people and fought for them when they were not able to fight for themselves.  More importantly, Rosenthal remembers a good friend.

"Everybody handles death differently and I'm probably way different, I don't handle it well. I'm going to miss him, the loved ones, we all do. Again, when I think of Bill, I think of all the great things he did and how feisty he was. He and I had a great relationship. It was always a great give and take. He was a bright guy and fun to be around," Rosenthal said.

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