LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Leaders of the movement to recall Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham sent him an open letter demanding his resignation Thursday, but Mecham said it would take "more credibility than they have" to make him quit.
What's more, he said, he is already thinking about a second term.
At its headquarters in Phoenix, the Mecham Recall Committee announced that it now has 226,518 signatures on recall petitions--nearly 10,000 more than the 216,746 that must be collected by Nov. 1 in order to force a recall election.
The figure was made public just before issuance of the open letter to the Republican governor, signed by recall committee Chairman Naomi Howard.
"For the good of the state of Arizona," the letter said, "the time has come for you to resign as governor. Clearly you do not have the support of even one-third of the people of this state. Therefore we ask you at this time to put the interests of the people of this state above your own.
"For the good of our state and to avoid the considerable consternation that a continued term of office is certain to bring, we implore you to submit your resignation."
But Mecham, who has in the past described the recall movement as "a band of homosexual agitators and dissident Democrats," scoffed at the letter, and at the petition.
Informed of the letter after he made an address on rural development at Lake Havasu City, the governor said he does not "put a lot of stock" in the committee's count of signatures.
"I have a four-year lease on this office," he said, "and I plan to consider reelection in 1989."
Mecham press spokesman Ron Bullus also expressed skepticism regarding the validity of the petition signatures.
In an interview with The Times earlier this week, he said the governor's office knows of one worker in the recall campaign--whom he refused to name--who said she quit because she saw other workers forging signatures.
In addition, Bullus said, several Mecham supporters have boasted that they personally signed bogus names to several recall petitions, which would be questioned and thrown out during the validation process.