Jim Gibbons' term in the governor's office is getting off to a rough start. Just 3-months into the job and his approval ratings are in the basement. Even lower, in fact, than another high-profile republican, President bush.
There's no other way to state it. These are very troubling numbers for a new governor, all the more so because the issues that at work here concern the governor himself and his performance in office.
Jim Gibbons had reason to celebrate election night. He'd just won shrugging off a series of issues that would sink many a candidacy. Allegations he had accosted a woman in a Las Vegas parking lot, that he had for years employed an illegal immigrant his Reno home, and just before the election a Wall Street Journal report that the FBI was investigating his relationship with Reno businessman Warren Trepp for whom he had secured a lucrative Defense Department contract.
But the bad news followed him into office. An unusual midnight swearing-in. Confusing education and energy proposals. Budget numbers that legislators say are constantly changing and rarely explained and worst of all new details concerning his relationship with Trepp. There's been a steady drip-drip of bad news for the governor. And it's had its effect.
A poll conducted by a respected independent company last week found the governor's approval rating at just 29 percent. 33 percent disapproving and 38 percent undecided. By contrast the president's numbers are 5 percent higher. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's approval stands at 55 percent. Another polling firm put Kenny Guinn's approval at 59 percent as he was leaving office.
The pollster's take: These are unusual numbers for a new governor and they are coming from a disillusioned electorate worried the state is headed in the wrong direction.
Of course, the governor could turn things around. Republican spokesman Bob Larkin sees an encouraging sign in the number of undecideds in that poll. No one is talking recall yet. That can't happen until someone's been in office for 6 months, but there are whispers. There are also a lot of people shaking their heads as each new story emerges.