The Arizona Supreme Court is being asked to cancel the May 17 gubernatorial recall election now that the target, Republican Evan Mecham, is no longer in office.
Meanwhile, a county court judge cleared the way Wednesday for the new governor, Democrat Rose Mofford, to appear on the ballot if the election is held.Both the suit and the favorable ruling were sought by supporters of Gov. Rose Mofford, who took office in her own right after Mecham was convicted by the Senate impeachment court on Monday.
A suit filed by Phoenix residents Elinor Green and Joel Hunter asked the Supreme Court to order acting Secretary of State Karen Osborne to cancel the recall vote.
"The removal of the governor from office by impeachment and the swearing in of a new governor ... render the recall election unnecessary and improper," said complaint said.
The lawsuit was filed after negotiations involving Mofford's chief of staff, Andrew Hurwitz, his law partner Bill Maledon and Attorney General Bob Corbin.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Andrew Gordon, said they were challenging the recall as taxpayers who believe the cost is unnecessary. Gordon would not say who was paying the cost of the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, Corbin issued a non-binding opinion saying that even if Mecham were removed from office the election must go forward.
"There's nothing in the constitution that says the recall election stops" if the governor is removed, Corbin said. Recalls technically are aimed at the office, not the officeholder, he said.
Mofford has avoided talking about the possibility of being a candidate in the recall election because of Arizona's "resign to run" law.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday. Gordon said he hopes for an early decision because absentee balloting is scheduled to begin April 14, two days later.
Ed Buck, head of the Mecham Recall Committee, which filed almost 400,000 petition signatures seeking the recall vote, said he supports Mofford but still believes the recall should be held because "you will never put the issue to rest until the people have a chance to vote."
Mecham told a Republican audience in Mesa Wednesday night he hoped to announce by Friday whether he will attempt to run in the recall or try to appeal his impeachment conviction to a federal court.
Corbin and others have said Mecham is no longer entitled to be on the recall ballot.