NORTON, Kan. (AP) — There are no parades, no speeches or oaths of office, but it’s still an occasion when a small bank in a small northwestern Kansas town adds another portrait to its gallery of presidential also-rans.
So officials at First State Bank in Norton scheduled a free public reception — with coffee and cookies — for Tuesday’s enshrinement of a photograph of Republican Mitt Romney in its unusual upstairs museum, the “They Also Ran Gallery.”
The former Massachusetts governor, defeated in November by President Barack Obama, will be the 60th presidential loser to have his portrait and a brief biography hung on the gallery walls, The Salina Journal reported.
Romney will be in company both obscure (Gen. Lewis Cass, loser in 1848 to Whig candidate Zachary Taylor) and famous (Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and others who lost at least one presidential bid before going on to win another).
“We’ll have winners mixed in with losers. There’s at least one picture for every presidential election year,” said gallery curator Lee Ann Shearer, who also works as a bookkeeper at the bank.
William Walter Rouse, former owner and president of First State Bank, started the portrait collection in 1965. A plan to house the gallery in another building in Norton 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.
About 250 people visit the gallery in presidential election years, Shearer said. A guest book contains signatures of visitors from Washington, D.C., and Oregon, as well as Germany, Iceland and South America.
The gallery has obtained most of its pictures from the Library of Congress. The display includes a smattering of independent, third-party and defunct-party candidates, as well as historical oddities like Norman Thomas, who ran and lost six times as a socialist from 1928 through 1948.
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.
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.”
Her first inaugural party was when Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona was inducted after he lost the 2008 election to 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.”