In Georgia, the surest indication that a governor is about to leave office is the unveiling of the official portrait that will hang on the capitol walls after the chief executive is replaced by his successor.
That moment arrived for Gov. Sonny Perdue on Monday, about a month before the end of his eight years in office, during a ceremony in front of the capitol’s north stairs on the second floor, just a few feet from the governor’s office.
This official portrait is the first one that includes both the governor and his spouse, Perdue’s wife Mary. The smiling couple are depicted standing on the portico of the governor’s mansion by the artist, Bulgarian-born Rossen Raytchev Raykov, better known by the name “Rossin.”
“It makes it prettier and more nicer to look at,” Perdue said, somewhat jokingly, in his explanation of why the portrait includes two people rather than the customary one.
In a more serious frame of mind, he called Mary Perdue “the person that knows you better than any person on earth and still loves you. For that I will be forever indebted.”
Back in a jocular mood, he added, “I’m just happy she’s agreed to go down with me to Bonaire.”
Perdue’s close friend and political ally, Alec Poitevint, raised the money that paid for the new portrait. Poitevint, the former head of the Georgia Republican Party, said the money was donated entirely by members of the board of the Georgia Ports Authority, which he chairs courtesy of an appointment from Perdue.
Poitevint declined to disclose how much money the authority members donated for the artist’s commission. “It was very reasonable for the quality of the portrait,” he said. Rossin’s portraits of the high and the mighty – he has painted both presidents Bush and Sen. Saxby Chambliss – reportedly bring him commissions in the range of $18,000 to $35,000.
The decision to raise the money from Ports Authority members is ironic, in light of recent media reports that representatives of Perdue’s trucking and grain businesses had met several times with port officials for tips on how to increase the amount of business the Perdue companies do with Georgia ports after he leaves office.