By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
You're Bob Barnes, and by now running for governor of Arizona has taken over your life. For you, it has become an obsession.
You are running dead last in the polls but have become so taken over by your dream you no longer remember a time in your life when you weren't a candidate.
Each time new poll figures are published, they break your heart. You are dead last in the Republican primary race and falling. Everyone says you're too far behind to be counted as a serious candidate.
But you won't give up. You are convinced a political miracle will propel you into the governor's office. Frank Capra used to make movies about people like you and put Jimmy Stewart in the lead role.
You have no elaborate campaign headquarters like the other candidates. There is no money, no billboards, no staff, no hired political guns from Washington. You are running the show right out of your back pocket.
J. Fife Symington III has already spent more than a million dollars. Your expenses have amounted only to gasoline money for your ancient car.
Fred Koory has been in Arizona politics for twenty years, and he's thrown $118,000 of his own into a campaign that has so far placed him next to last. And Koory, too, still believes he's on his way to victory.
No one knows how much Evan Mecham is spending or where the money is coming from. But Evan is certain he's a winner because God has told him so.
Sam Steiger operates from a steady flow of contributions that keeps coming in daily. He is an old pro who knows how to win despite being counted out by the experts. But you, Bob Barnes, retain that dream you will succeed in making the experts look silly. So you keep showing up for the candidate debates, convinced in your heart that lightning will strike.
At first, they wouldn't even invite you to speak from the platform. The Republican party bosses like Burt Kruglick told you to get lost. You were in the way. But you kept on showing up. Nobody could convince you to stay away.
So they finally quit harassing you. That was your first triumph and a signal you had a chance.
And when they tell you it's your time to get up and speak, you do so with all the assurance of a candidate who's in the thick of the race.
"When I'm elected governor," you tell the crowds, "I'm going to give up 20 percent of my salary to the poor." This, in itself, shows what chutzpah you've brought to the race for governor. Your income form shows that you made less than $25,000 last year.
You have been a teacher most of your life and so you expound to the audiences on your ideas about education. Sometimes, you can see their eyes glaze over, but you press on anyway.
You tell them about your brief period as an employee in the Mecham administration.
"Evan fired me," you say, "and I could never find out why." The audience laughs. They all know by now how unpredictable Mecham is.
You tell them about taking a lie detector test to prove your integrity.
"I wanted to demonstrate that I was honest. At first nothing registered on the machine because I was so relaxed. At first they thought I was brain-dead." The audience bursts into laughter every time you say that. So do the other candidates.
When reporters press you for an explanation about staying in the race, you have a quick answer.
"I had a meeting with a man who may be able to raise $70,000 for my campaign," you say. "If I get that money, I can make my name known all over the state. Once they know my name, people will vote for me. I'm convinced of that." Then a thought hits you.
"Trouble with taking $70,000 from one man is that you have to know where he's coming from," you say. "If a guy wants to give you that much money, you have to ask yourself who he is and what he wants from you." Most candidates look at the polls and think about the percentage of people who have declared their allegiance to them.
Your figures are so low that you can find hope only in the number of voters who declared themselves undecided.
"There are 33 percent of the voters who haven't made up their minds," you tell friends. ‘If I get that $70,000, maybe I could win those votes and be back in the thick of the race. Nobody's running away with this race. I still have a chance." There are times during your talks to Republican voters that you seem almost desperate. It isn't that the voters don't like you. It's just that they don't think you have a chance and they wonder why you insist on running.
"I'm going on with my campaign," you tell them, "because I want to show that one man, working alone, can make a difference." You are closer than any of the political reporters to this race because you are up there on those speaker's platforms with the candidates every day.