More on Larry Pressler

My lengthy story on Larry Pressler would seem to offer all you want to know about the former South Dakota congressman and senator, but there is a lot more I didn’t write.
Pressler said his primary two rivals were former congressman and senator James Abourezk and former governor and congressman Bill Janklow. Abourezk is a liberal Democrat while Janklow is, I guess, a moderate Republican. He’s hard to describe in so many ways.
Pressler, now 69, was planning to run against Abourezk for a Senate seat in 1978 when Abourezk dropped out of politics, never to return. He’s now 80, so it seems unlikely he will ever run again.
Janklow, now 71, was a generational rival of Pressler’s. They were both students at USD at the same time, and rose in GOP politics in the early 1970s.
Pressler told me since he never wanted to be governor, he thought he and Janklow had room to seek their career choices. But it was no secret the men didn’t care for each other and Pressler admitted that to me.
There is an interesting sidebar that is more fully told in Abourezk’s fine book “Advise & Dissent” on his relationship with Janklow:
In the 1960s, Janklow had worked at a bar/restaurant that Abourezk owned in West River. One of the Indian dancers out front also had an interesting future in SD: It was Russell Means, the Native American activist who has also acted in several movies and on TV. Means is also a Republican, by the way.
Pressler said he holds no hard feelings against Abourezk or Janklow and he patched up his rivalry with Tim Johnson after Johnson’s stroke-like illness a few years ago.
But Pressler is still bitter, or at least disappointed, by the treatment he felt he received from some members of the South Dakota media. He especially feels the Argus Leader didn’t play fair with him.
While Pressler does wonder if he could have continued to serve, he did spend 22 years in Washington representing his home state and now works in New York City, Washington and around the globe. It seems as if he’s had a full, fascinating life.

3 thoughts on “More on Larry Pressler

  1. Tom – Interesting story. Are you sure about Russell Means being a Republican? Thought he was a maverick Libertarian. Maybe he recently changed his registration.

    • Means told me he was a Republican when I did a long profile (it’s a habit, I admit) on him a few years ago. He endorsed John Thune in 2004 and has supported other GOP candidates.
      However, since he has attempted to form The Republic of Lakotah, he may may no longer vote. I know when I interviewed him, he had no South Dakota driver’s license (he had a “license” signed by a tribal elder), so he may not be registered.
      But he was a Republican when I spoke with him and supported that party. Means is a bright, fascinating man, packed with contradictions and insight. I think he will long be remembered in S.D. and the world.
      Oh, and he’s excellent on screen. He is great in “The Last of the Mohicans” and told me he stays in contact with Daniel Day-Lewis, who played his adoptive son in the movie.

  2. Tom have you thought of adding to this piece by getting James Abourezk”s remarks?? Seems to me that Jim dropped out because he had found out that being in the DC circle wasn’t all that he cared for- however your Pressler interview seems to indicate otherwise??

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