Born May 12, 1924 - Duchesne, UT
. Died February 21, 2008 Arizona
"Ev" Mecham, a decorated WWII pilot and successful Pontiac car dealer, elevated his status from right-wing kook to Republican governor of Arizona in 1986 after several prior unsuccessful attempts. Mecham governed for only a year before being impeached for numerous campaign finance violations (the first gubernatorial impeachment in America since 1929), but he still managed to create a non-stop stream of controversy during his short term.
Of all his steps and missteps, Mecham is most remembered for rescinding the paid state holiday for MLK's birthday shortly after taking office. Aside from the worldwide scorn directed at Mecham by everyone from civil rights groups to the rock band U2, rescinding the holiday cost the state hundreds of millions in lost business, including the relocation of an upcoming Super Bowl out of Phoenix.
Mecham's other public embarrassments generally involved his obtuse, paranoid, borderline racist remarks made in front of the press, remarks which made the job of criticizing and ridiculing him fairly easy. How easy? Dan Quayle easy. For example, Mecham defended an old textbook which used the racist term "pickaninny" and, in a separate move, unofficially declared local newspaper reporter Jon Kolbe a "non-person".
Had the Mormon, toupeed Mecham not been impeached, he would most likely have been unseated in a recall election, since a petition drive to stage the recall election was wildly successful. The recall petition drive was led by Ed Buck, an openly gay Republican activist, which had Mecham claiming he was the target of a conspiracy by Buck and other homosexual activists. Many Arizonans in support of the recall effort responded to Mecham's claim by wearing buttons which read "Heterosexual Activist".