James Arthur "Jim" Gibbons (born December 16, 1944) is an American politician. He is the former 28th Governor of the U.S. state of Nevada from 2007 to 2011. He is a former member of the United States House of Representatives, having served from 1997 to 2006. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Born in Sparks, Nevada, Gibbons interrupted his studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, during the Vietnam War to serve in the United States Air Force (1967–1971). He also attended Southwestern Law School, in Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California for post-graduate studies. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College, he joined the Nevada Air National Guard in 1975 and served as its vice commander from 1990 to 1996, participating in the first Gulf War. During his military career, Gibbons earned nineteen service medals, including the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. In civilian life, he has worked as a lawyer in private practice, an airline pilot for both Western Airlines and Delta Air Lines, a hydrologist and a geologist. Gibbons is a nonpracticing Latter-day Saint.
Nevada State Assembly
Gibbons served in the Nevada State Assembly from 1989 to 1993, during which time he was called to active service in the Gulf War as an RF-4C Flight Leader. During the conflict, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in a mission in which he flew his unarmed aircraft on a reconnaissance mission to acquire politically sensitive imagery of enemy targets in Kuwait.
Gibbons was elected to the House of Representatives in 1996. He served eight years as Nevada's United States Representative in the 2nd congressional district. He served as vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, and he was a member of the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His long-time congressional Chief of Staff, Michael Dayton, was replaced in 2002 by legislative director Robert Uithoven.
Uithoven served on Gibbons' staff for many years, including four years as chief of staff. He later served as campaign manager for Gibbons' successful 2006 Gubernatorial campaign. Uithoven was not given a gubernatorial position. His predecessor, Michael Dayton, was named as the governor's top aide.
Governor of Nevada
2002 Gubernatorial election
Gibbons announced in late 2004 that he would not run for a sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, instead opting to run for Governor of Nevada.
He won the August 15, 2006, Republican primary handily, defeating state senator Bob Beers and Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt. In the general election (described as "most contentious, ugly and negative in history") he faced Democratic nominee Dina Titus, who was the Minority Leader in the Nevada State Senate. Gibbons received 278,984 votes to Titus's 255,675. Titus won Clark County, Nevada's most populous, but was beaten by Gibbons in every other county. Gibbons called Titus "an admirable opponent", although Titus declined to echo his sentiments, saying "We disagree on basic policies, and neither one of us is going to change our minds for the other". Gibbons resigned his House seat on New Year's Eve, and was sworn in as governor just after midnight on New Year's Day, a highly irregular event in Nevada history. Many believe Gibbons did this in order to undo a late term appointment to the position of Nevada's Gaming Control Board Chairman by his predecessor, Governor Kenny Guinn.
2010 Gubernatorial election
Gibbons has been the subject of a number of scandals and controversies, both professional and personal, that caused speculation that he would not seek a second term as governor. Gibbons did file for re-election in March 2010. On June 9, 2010, he lost the Republican nomination for his reelection bid to former federal judge Brian Sandoval—who went on to win the general election and become the 29th Governor of Nevada.
Ethics group named Gibbons one of America's worst governors
In its April 2010 report, ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Gibbons one of 11 "worst governors" in the United States because of various ethics issues throughout Gibbons term as governor and his time in Congress. Some of Gibbons' ethics lapses cited by the watchdog include:
- Violated campaign finance law by accepting illegal corporate donations
- Allegedly assaulted a waitress
- Overlooked ethical lapses of his appointee
- Misused state resources in pursuit of an extra-marital affair
- Endangered his state’s economy by threatening to reject federal stimulus funds
- Has been investigated for his conduct as a member of Congress