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GOP Leaders Propose Mecham Public Relations Campaign

May 1, 1987

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ State Republican leaders, hoping to enhance the image of Gov. Evan Mecham, have drafted a public relations campaign that includes a high-profile role for Arizona’s first lady.

State GOP Chairman Burton Kruglick and the 16 county chairmen discussed the plan with Mecham aides after meeting with the governor to report on he political mood in their areas.

Mecham has not had time to study the plan closely, said his news secretary, Ron Bellus.

″We’re not in the ebusiness of a public relations firm,″ Bellus said. ″We’re trying to run state government.″

Bellus also said Wednesday that nothing had been decided about a more visible public role for Florence Mecham.

Mecham has been controversial since he took office. Among other things, he rescinded a state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and defended a book that used the term ″pickaninnies″ to describe black children.

Under the GOP proposal, Mrs. Mecham’s role would be ″to demonstrate the concern the Mechams have for the quality of life in Arizona″ by undertaking a public service campaign. Mrs. Mecham would make appearances and record public- service announcements for radio and television.

However, Sue Sossaman, Maricopa County GOP chairman, said Mrs. Mecham ″appears to be a very quiet, unassuming lady and might not be comfortable in that role.″

Other elements of the ″Mecham Support Plan,″ as the public relations campaign is called, include involvement in community projects, such as helping volunteers paint an elderly person’s home; an image campaign featuring staged news conferences in public settings; a press campaign including briefings for editors of high school and college newspapers; and a campaign to improve Mecham’s legislative image, including end-of-session news conferences with legislative leaders.

Glenn Davis, head of the state Democratic Party, dismissed the plan as ″part of the continuing joke″ of the Mecham administration.

Senate Democratic leader Alan Stephens predicted the plan would result in ″even more ridicule″ of the governor.

″He’s defining a new strategy for PR, and it better include a ladder to climb out of the hole he’s dug himself into,″ Stephens said. ″We do love Ev. He’s doing a great job for us Democrats.″

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