Former SD Gov. Janklow says he's dying of cancer

Bill Janklow
Former Congressman and South Dakota governor, Bill Janklow, listens to arguments in his appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court to get his law license back, in this photo taken Oct. 14, 2005, at the State Capitol in Pierre, S.D. Janklow said Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 that he's dying of brain cancer, but that he's undergoing experimental treatment that he hopes will save him.
AP Photo/Doug Dreyer

Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Former South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow said Friday that he's dying of brain cancer, but that he's undergoing experimental treatment that he hopes will save him.

Janklow, a Republican who dominated South Dakota politics for more than a quarter century, said the cancer is aggressive and that he's preparing to undergo treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"I know it's over, I know it's at the end of the trail, but I don't hurt," he told reporters gathered at his Sioux Falls law firm Friday. His forehead was scarred and stapled from recent medical procedures.

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Janklow was elected governor in 1978 and served two four-year terms. He lost the Republican Senate primary in 1986 to the incumbent, Jim Abdnor, and then joined an investment firm and later a law firm.

Janklow served another two four-year terms as governor beginning in 1994. He was elected in 2002 to the U.S. House, but his career was cut short after he sped through a stop sign and killed Randy Scott of Hardwick, Minn., in an Aug. 16, 2003, accident in Moody County north of Sioux Falls.

A jury convicted Janklow of second-degree manslaughter and three other charges.

"If I had to do it over, I'd do everything I did, but I'd stop at a stop sign," he said as he broke down in tears.

Janklow was returning to his Brandon home after attending an event in Aberdeen when he ran the stop sign.

Part of his defense was that as a diabetic, his senses and reflexes were dulled from low blood sugar and that he missed the early warning signs because a heart medication masked them.

Janklow said he had not eaten since the night before the accident. He testified in his trial that he had no clear memory of the collision, but did not consciously drive through the stop sign.

During his news conference Friday, Janklow defended himself against a news report that he recently closed his state campaign account that he maintained since leaving office nearly nine years ago. The account held more than $850,000.

"I removed them from the public arena because I'm using them for things other than politics," he said. "There are other people that are sick. There are other people that are dying. They don't need to be on television or in the newspaper. I'm providing lots of assistance to different individuals who have problems."

He said one of the things he is doing is establishing a foundation at the University of South Dakota to fund scholarships for students who can't afford to pay for school.

Republican Sen. John Thune, who was first elected to Congress when Janklow was governor, said his thoughts and prayers go out to Janklow and his family.

"We hope they can treat this thing and he can beat it. But obviously it's a sad day for South Dakota when something like this happens to one of our former leaders and somebody who been so impactful for our state," Thune said.

During his first two terms as governor, Janklow engineered the state's purchase of a rail line, got state law's on interest rates changed to lure Citibank and other credit-card banks to South Dakota, and persuaded the Legislature to convert the University of South Dakota-Springfield campus into a prison.

He also negotiated a deal to sell Missouri River water to a company that wanted to use the water in a pipeline that would have shipped Wyoming coal to southern states, but the project failed.

After returning to the governor's office in 1995, he persuaded the Legislature to pass his plan for cutting property taxes. He also won approval for buidling a new women's prison and facilities for juvenile offenders.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)