AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will miss next week’s Republican National Convention as he recovers from extensive burns after being scaled by hot water — meaning his state’s large delegation to Cleveland will be without its chosen chairman.
Spokesman Matt Hirsch told The Associated Press on Tuesday that doctors said it would be “irresponsible” for Abbott to travel, including to the gathering celebrating presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Abbott, who became governor last year, suffered what his office termed a “minor infection” after sustaining second- and third-degree burns on both legs below the knee and both feet on Thursday, while vacationing with his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Exactly how Abbott scalded himself remains unclear and his office has declined to answer further questions.
The governor uses a wheelchair after he was paralyzed from the waist down when a tree fell on him during a jog in 1984. Despite that, Abbott has felt pain as nerve receptors in his legs and feet react to the shock of being burned, according to Hirsch.
Abbott was treated last week at a Wyoming medical center. Just as he was being released, he received word that gunman Micah X. Johnson had opened fire in downtown Dallas.
Abbott headed to Dallas, where he held a news conference Friday — but didn’t disclose being burned. His legs were wrapped at the time, but covered by his pants.
He spent Monday night at San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center, and the following day “underwent a successful skin graft procedure,” his office said in a separate statement.
The governor endorsed the Republican presidential bid of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, his former colleague at the state attorney general’s office, but now says he will back Trump.
The 155-member state delegation will elect a new chairman upon its arrival at the convention, Michael Joyce, a spokesman for the Texas Republican Party, said Tuesday. Abbott was a pledged Cruz delegate and will be replaced by alternate Sichan Siv, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush and will also be pledged to Cruz.
Cruz won Texas’ March 1 primary, capturing 104 convention delegates, compared to Trump’s 48 and three for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
The injury has already caused Abbott to miss a visit to Dallas Tuesday by President Barack Obama, who addressed a memorial service along with former President George W. Bush for five police officers killed in last week’s mass shooting there.