News Column

Romney Set for Induction in 'Also Ran' Gallery

Jan. 21, 2013

Tim Unruh

In an upstairs display, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who lost his second bid for the presidency in November, will be enshrined at 10 a.m. Tuesday in a Salina, Kan., bank's They Also Ran Gallery.

The "Inaugural Event and Reception," with coffee and cookies, will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no charge to visit the gallery, which is open during those hours Monday through Friday and by appointment on Saturdays.

Romney's portrait is the 60th in the collection, joining the likenesses of John McCain, Al Gore, John Kerry, Bob Dole and a bunch of lesser-known losers. Among those are John C. Fremont, who lost to James Buchanan in the 1856 election. The gallery includes election losers who also were winners, such as Thomas Jefferson.

"We'll have winners mixed in with losers. There's at least one picture for every presidential election year," said Lee Ann Shearer, the gallery's curator.

To get a closer look, go online to

Began in 1965

The collection was begun in 1965 by William Walter Rouse, former owner and president of First State Bank. He started the gallery after reading Irving Stone's book, "They also Ran."

The original plan was to build the gallery close to Norton's Stagecoach Station 15, but it didn't work out, so Rouse made room for it on the bank's second floor.

"That's where it's been for 48 years, like a little treasure," Shearer said.

The gallery is among Norton's attractions. During a presidential election year, up to 250 will climb the stairs to walk through. A guest book has been signed by folks from Washington, D.C., and Oregon, not to mention Germany, South America and Iceland.

An often-repeated request is a picture of Ross Perot, who lost, along with George H.W. Bush, in 1992. While only one candidate has been added per election, Perot is in the running for an exception.

Visitors also wonder about the supposed "ruby red lips" in Gore's black-and-white photo, Shearer said.

"They ask if he's wearing lipstick," she said. "Maybe he got a smooch from his wife."

The gallery has obtained most of its pictures from the Library of Congress.

Every four years

Shearer stages a special event every four years, when the also-ran candidate is enshrined.

"I've tried to make it a party and a little inauguration," Shearer said. "After a welcome, I will have a little talk about the rejected candidate."

While Dole, who lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, has visited Norton, Shearer said the former U.S. senator from Russell has never stopped by the gallery.

Perhaps the most prestigious visitor was Sen. Jerry Moran, who staged one of his 1st District Listening Tours in the gallery in June 2005, when he was a U.S. representative.

Employed as a bookkeeper since July 1998, Shearer has doubled as the curator for about 12 years. She would like to help the gallery gain some exposure. The U.S. Highway 36 Association lists They Also Ran Gallery among the attractions along the northern tier of counties, and there have been tours by schoolchildren on field trips.

The gallery was an 8 Wonders of Kansas finalist in the Kansas Sampler Foundation contest.

Her first inaugural party was when McCain was inducted after he lost the 2008 election to President Barack Obama.

"Being curator makes my job spiced up from looking at numbers all day," she said. "I've got to make this come alive by trying to share stories with people."

Source: (c)2013 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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