BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter underwent hip surgery Tuesday, but he hasn’t asked Lt. Gov. Jim Risch to take over.
“There’s no good time for something like this,” Otter said in a statement. “But I needed to take care of this little hitch so I can devote my time and energy more fully to serving the people of Idaho.”
The governor had “resurfacing surgery” on his right hip, an alternative to hip replacement for patients suffering severe arthritis. Recovery typically takes six weeks to three months, but Otter plans to continue working.
“We have a leadership meeting with him on Thursday morning – what we got was they said the meeting wasn’t canceled yet,” said Senate GOP Caucus Chairman Brad Little, R-Emmett. “We decided he was very tough.”
Risch was asked to stand by during the surgery because Otter, 65, was expected to undergo general anesthesia, but his spokesman, Jon Hanian, said that turned out not to be necessary. “He had a spinal – he was conscious and awake through the surgery,” Hanian said.
State law requires the lieutenant governor to take over when the governor is out of the state or temporarily incapacitated – which would have applied only while Otter was unconscious, Hanian said. “He was not fully unconscious.”
Asked why the governor scheduled the surgery now – just at the opening of the fourth week of the legislative session with many of his proposals in play – Hanian said, “I think there’s just never a good time to do this. It’s no secret that it’s been giving him issues, there was some pain associated with this and I think his doctors felt, ‘Let’s go ahead and do this.’ “
The surgery was performed by Dr. Colin Poole, of Intermountain Orthopedics at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise. It took about two hours.
“We’re happy that it appears to have gone great and he’s doing well,” Hanian said.
Otter is expected to go home by the weekend.
“Lori and I will be focusing on getting me up and around for the next several weeks, so we hope you all will understand,” Otter said in his statement. “We both appreciate your concerns and well-wishes more than we can express, and we regret any inconvenience this causes.”
Hanian said Otter’s schedule was cleared for the surgery.
“He’s going to be laid up for a while, obviously,” he said. “We’re anxious to get him back in the office, but that’s going to be up to him, his family and his doctors as to when that happens.”
Little said, “If you’re going to have hip surgery, it’s a big deal. And nobody knew about it – it was a state secret. So that dispels any rumor that the governor can’t keep a secret.”
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