Evan Mecham ( MEE-k?m; May 12, 1924 – February 21, 2008) was an American businessman and the 17th governor of Arizona, serving from January 5, 1987, until his impeachment conviction on April 4, 1988.
A decorated veteran of World War II, Mecham was a successful automotive dealership owner and occasional newspaper publisher.
Periodic runs for political office earned him a reputation as a perennial candidate along with the nickname of "The Harold Stassen of Arizona" before he was elected governor, under the Republican banner.
As governor, Mecham was plagued by controversy almost immediately after his inauguration and became the first U.S.
governor to simultaneously face removal from office through impeachment, a scheduled recall election, and a felony indictment.
He was the first Arizona governor to be impeached.
Mecham served one term as a state senator before beginning a string of unsuccessful runs for public office.
His victory during the 1986 election began with a surprise win of the Republican nomination, followed by a split of the Democratic party during the general election, resulting in a three-way race.
While Governor, Mecham became known for statements and actions that were widely perceived as insensitive to minorities.
Among these actions were the cancellation of the state's paid Martin Luther King Jr.
Day and creating an unpaid King holiday on a Sunday, attributing high divorce rates to working women, and his defense of the word "pickaninny" in describing African American children.
In reaction to these events, a boycott of Arizona was organized.
A rift between the Governor and fellow Republicans in the Arizona Legislature developed after the Arizona Republic newspaper made accusations of questionable political appointments and cronyism, accusations that Mecham contended were false.
Having served from January 5, 1987, to April 4, 1988, Mecham was removed from office following conviction in his impeachment trial on charges of obstruction of justice and misuse of government funds – funds that Mecham maintained were private.
A later criminal trial acquitted Mecham of related charges.
Following his removal from office, Mecham remained active in politics for nearly a decade.
During this time, he served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and made his final runs for Arizona Governor and also for the U.S.