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Gibbons back on his own two feet

He is Nevada’s lame-duck governor, but don’t call him lame.

Jim Gibbons hardly even limped Tuesday as he made his first official public appearance since breaking his pelvis in a Sept. 21 horse-riding accident.

A smiling Gibbons said he felt “much better, but not good enough yet to be running” as he walked into a ballroom at The Venetian for the winter meeting of the Western Governors’ Association.

He seemed to stiffen up a bit after he sat for about an hour of a panel discussion on water issues, but when he slipped out early, he did not need a cane or any help from his aides. He chatted with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal as he leisurely walked back downstairs to the parking garage.

The governor’s spokesman, Dan Burns, seemed genuinely surprised.

“He was in a wheelchair a week ago, and he was using a cane this morning,” Burns said.

Gibbons, who turns 66 on Dec. 16, said he was “blessed” by great medical care. He credited his improvement to almost daily sessions with physical therapists.

“They’ve been beating the hell out of me,” he said.

Gibbons’ pelvis was broken in several places when he was thrown from a horse at a ranch north of Reno. Ten-inch and eight-inch bolts were placed in his body temporarily, with several plates, to hold the pelvis together while it heals.

Despite the painful injury, he returned to public life Oct. 12 when he presided over two state meetings by telephone from the hospital.

He said he chose the Western Governors’ Association meeting for his first public appearance because he was itching to get back to work five days after finally getting out of his wheelchair.

The soon to be ex-governor certainly seemed like his old self.

Gibbons even threw in a dig at President Barack Obama for suggesting almost a year ago that Las Vegas wasn’t a fiscally responsible place to hold a convention.

Gibbons said the association of 19 Western governors seemed to like Las Vegas and its convention facilities just fine.

More public events await the governor as he closes out the final month of his term in office, including a Board of Examiners meeting Dec. 14 and the hanging of his official portrait in the Capitol on Dec. 17.

Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval will be sworn in Jan. 3.

It’s been a tough a year for Gibbons, who inked two unfortunate entries in the Nevada history books when he became the first governor to lose in a primary election and get divorced while in office.

Burns said Gibbons’ doctor has cleared him to do as much as he wants to do so long as the pain is tolerable.

“I walked down here with him, and I can tell you there’s considerable pain,” Burns said.

And not all the pain was physical. Gibbons also had to endure some ribbing from his colleagues.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter introduced Gibbons as “fresh out of his wheelchair and off the horse,” then quickly corrected himself. “I guess I should have said ‘off the horse and out of the wheelchair,’ ” Otter said.

“You had to bring that up,” Gibbons replied.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@review
journal.com or 702-383-0350.

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