Republican J. Fife Symington III heads into a gubernatorial showdown against Democrat Terry Goddard with a less-than-ringing endorsement from former Gov. Evan Mecham.
"I'll support Fife," said Mecham, who lost his comeback attempt in Tuesday's primary. "As I've said many times, Goddard will be a 100% disaster. Fife will only be an 80% disaster."
With 99% of the state's precincts reporting, Symington had 161,347 votes, or 44%, to Mecham's 89,496 votes, or 24%, in the five-way GOP race. Goddard had 209,454 votes, or 84%, to beat perennial candidate David Moss, with 39,970, or 16%.
"Now, the great battle begins," said Symington, a millionaire developer, of his general election contest with Goddard, the former Phoenix mayor who also is known as Samuel P. Goddard III.
Mecham was seeking a political comeback 2 1/2 years after his impeachment conviction and removal from office. Analysts said his chances were doomed by a higher-than-anticipated turnout. Also, the five-way race split the vote.
Democrat Rose Mofford, who became governor upon Mecham's ouster, had decided to retire.
Symington, 45, portrayed as the liberal in the GOP primary, used his victory speech to get in his first jabs at Goddard, 43, the son of former Gov. Sam Goddard.
Goddard "is a professional politician, a tax-and-spend Dukakis liberal Democrat, and I'm a Goldwater conservative, and I'm proud of it," Symington said.
Symington ran a major campaign in the mid-1980s to promote a retail office complex that he was developing over then-Mayor Goddard's objections. His great-grandfather, Henry Clay Frick, founded U.S. Steel.