RENO — Gov. Jim Gibbons is not living at the governor’s mansion in the capital because of marital difficulties with his wife, first lady Dawn Gibbons, a friend and spokesman said Friday.
“To my knowledge, the governor has resided at both their private residence in Reno and at the mansion since he took office,” Jim Denton said in a written response to an inquiry about the governor’s living arrangements.
“Currently, he entertains and conducts needed state business at the mansion, but is temporarily staying in the Reno residence while going through this difficult and painful time,” Denton said. “I know they are working toward a resolution and he asks that the family’s personal privacy be respected. The governor continues to do the state’s business as usual.”
Jim and Dawn Gibbons attended the Governor’s Boots and Rhinestones Ball in Reno separately Friday night, walking past each other without speaking.
Jim Gibbons, in the second year of a four-year term, said he would not talk about the marital situation. Asked if a divorce was in the works, he said, “We’re working on it — working on our relationship. It’s something private.”
Dawn Gibbons, wearing a strapless black sheath dress, also declined to comment. “You’ll have to ask Jim about that,” she said.
In an interview last October, the first lady spoke positively of the couple’s relationship and told a reporter funny stories about when the couple had first met.
She vehemently defended her husband during the 2006 governor’s race when cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo accused him of attempting to coerce her into sex in a parking structure near a Las Vegas restaurant.
Reports surfaced in February that the governor, 63, and the first lady, 54, might file for divorce.
The couple, who have been married more than two decades and have a grown son, own a home in southwest Reno. The governor has two children from a previous marriage.
Reports that their marriage was troubled first surfaced in 1996 when Jim Gibbons won his first of five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dawn Gibbons did not live with him in Washington while he served in Congress. She said she preferred remaining in Reno and raising their son in a better environment.
She then entered politics herself and won three terms in the Assembly.
Before that, she stepped in for her husband, then a little-known Reno assemblyman, when he was called into active duty in 1991 for service during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf.
A long-time commercial airline pilot and member of the Nevada National Guard, Jim Gibbons flew on reconnaissance missions in the gulf.
His wife replaced him in the Assembly during the war and then stepped down to allow him to return to his seat when he returned home.
She also ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat that he gave up when he ran for governor. She lost the 2006 primary.
Marriages of all but one Nevada governor over the past 40 years have been long and appeared strong.
The exception was Gov. Robert List, who held a news conference in 1981 to report that he and his wife, Kathy, had separated.
They later reconciled but divorced several years later after List left the governor’s office.