I promised you all some entertaining stories about Arizona politicians, so here is the "Recent Arizona Governors' Hall of Fame and / or Shame":
First up, we have former Governor Evan Mecham. Elected in 1986, he began his term as Governor in 1987. (Should I still use the title "Honorable" for a fellow who was impeached and resigned in disgrace? Just curious). While serving as Governor of our great state, he cancelled Martin Luther King Day, and also used (and defended the use of) the word "pickaninny" and made other racist remarks, provoking a "boycott" of the State by people in other states, which eventually cost the state an opportunity to host the Superbowl. In 1988, after serving only one year of his term, he was impeached for fundraising improprieties that had occurred during his campaign, and was removed from office in April 1988 before he could cause any more damage to the State's image and financial well-being.
The Honorable Rose Mofford, who was at the time of Mr. Mecham's impeachment the Secretary of State, by statute took office upon Mr. Mecham's removal from office. She was a very cool lady and was the first woman Governor of the State of Arizona. She restored Arizona’s image as a decent State, and governed with grace and good humor. She wore a "beehive" type hairdo and heavy fake eyelashes, and in 1988 she commissioned and sent out holiday cards with a caricature drawing of her as a toga-wearing "Goddess of Liberty" atop the state capitol – and showing lots of leg.... a real jaw-dropper! Sadly, she declined to run for another term after completing her "fill-in" term for Mr. Mecham.
For more on Ms. Mofford, including a photo of her famous hair, see this article at azcentral.com.
For an even better photo, see her biography cover photo at Amazon.com. You should probably buy the book. I'd be willing to bet it is fascinating!
Sorry, I couldn’t find a color photo (or even a very good quality photo) of the famous holiday card (maybe there is one in the book?); I did find a rather grainy black & white photo in the Tucson Observer archives, which I have reproduced here:
(You can follow this link if you want to go to the original source).
The card received national press coverage, as well – it was written up in Time magazine, although apparently with no photo. At the time, there was lots of talk about how "inappropriate" this card was and how awfully wrong Governor Mofford was to have commissioned it. If that was the worst they could say about her, well, compared to her predecessor and her successor, I'd say she did a mighty fine job as Governor. Also, I subsequently learned that these caricature cards are a holiday tradition for Ms. Mofford -- see this example on flickr.
Fife Symington was the successor to Governor Mofford. His campaign claimed that Mr. Symington was a successful businessman, and he promised to run the State like a successful business and solve the State’s financial problems. Sounds good, right? Well, his business ventures were so "successful" that he ended up filing bankruptcy in 1995, and (apparently based on statements made during the course of his bankruptcy case) he was later indicted and prosecuted in federal court for extortion, making false financial statements, and bank fraud. After his conviction in 1997, he was forced to resign. His conviction was overturned on appeal due to issues with a juror at trial; before he could be retried, he was pardoned by President Clinton in 2001.
After his pardon, Mr. Symington attended culinary school. More recently, Mr. Symington has appeared discussing UFOs on Larry King Live, and has claimed that he saw a UFO in March of 1997. Follow this link for more information.
With male governors like these "bad boys" with their impeachments and criminal charges as "bookends" to an uneventful yet amusing female Governor, is it any wonder that Arizonans subsequently have elected (so far) only women Governors after Symington? Jane Hull (Republican) followed Symington, and Janet Napolitano (Democrat) followed Jane Hull.
Welcome to Arizona politics. Now, aren't you sorry we didn't elect Senator McCain as our new President? Surely it would have been a more entertaining and eventful 4 years than Mr. Obama is likely to provide...