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Filing Deadline Passes For Mecham Recall Election With AM-Mecham, Bjt

March 19, 1988

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Backers of former state school superintendent Carolyn Warner filed petitions Friday to put her on the recall election ballot against impeached Gov. Evan Mecham, setting up a possible seven-way race in the May 17 vote.

More than 100 people took out petitions to run against the first-term Republican governor, but only six came back with signatures as Friday’s filing deadline passed.

Backers of Mrs. Warner, a Democrat who lost to Mecham in 1986, filed what they said were about 6,500 signatures, well over the total of 3,336 valid signatures required.

Backers of acting Gov. Rose Mofford, another Democrat, and two Republican hopefuls - party national committeeman Jack Londen and former congressman John Rhodes - submitted signatures Thursday.

Mecham is automatically on the ballot, unless the Senate’s impeachment trial ends before then with a vote to bar him from public office.

Two lesser-known candidates, one a real-estate broker with little political experience and the other a member of the Socialist Workers Party, also filed under the deadline.

Under state law, the highest vote total wins the recall election, even if it is less than a majority. Political affiliations are not indicated on the ballot.

Mecham was elected on his fifth try in a race against Mrs. Warner and a Democrat running as an independent, Bill Schulz.

Several candidates have said that a large number of candidates in the May 17 election would boost Mecham’s chances of retaining office.

State law requires that Mrs. Mofford, who was elected secretary of state in 1986 and became acting governor when Mecham was impeached last month, resign both posts if she is to campaign openly for the governor’s job.

She has declined to say whether she would resign and run actively.

Warner campaign spokesman Dave Bolger said Mrs. Warner would not run if Mrs. Mofford declared she would campaign actively.

On the Republican side, Londen vowed to drop out if Mecham’s Senate impeachment trial results in acquittal. Rhodes said he would stay in the race regardless of the outcome of the trial, which wound up its third week Friday.

Mecham is charged with obstructing justice, concealing a $350,000 campaign loan and loaning $80,000 in state money to his auto dealership.

The other two candidates filing petitions were Tempe real-estate broker John C. Oertle Sr. and and Socialist Workers Party candidate Bernie Senter.