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The state Supreme Court canceled the gubernatorial recall election, denying Evan Mecham a last, desperate chance to return to office in what could be the final word to 15 months of political upheaval.

The court did not provide a detailed explanation of Tuesday's 4-1 decision, which means the new governor, Democrat Rose Mofford, will serve out Mecham's term through 1990.The 65-year-old former secretary of state became governor on April 4 when her Republican predecessor was convicted on impeachment charges by the Senate.

The court said that because Mecham already has been removed, the regular order of succession must take precedence over the state constitution's recall provisions.

Mecham Recall Committee founder Ed Buck, who had favored holding the election, said his reaction still was one of relief.

"I'm a little bit disappointed because I think a recall election would have given us the opportunity to put Evan Mecham behind us once and for all," Buck said, "because Evan Mecham would have received so few votes that he and his supporters would see how weak Evan Mecham really was."

"We've been handed a bucket of lemons and we're going to make a barrel of lemonade," Mecham told supporters in Mesa. "There isn't anything in the law, in the constitution, that says that the Supreme Court can cancel this election." Mecham was removed last week from the ballot in the May 17 election.