They are tightening the noose on Bob Barnes' long-shot campaign to become Arizona's governor.
On Tuesday, April 17, four Republican candidates have been invited to speak to the Lincoln Caucus at the west-side campus of Arizona State University.
Barnes is the only candidate who's been told he's not welcome to appear on the platform. The Lincoln Caucus is made up of far-right Republicans who supported Pat Robertson for president.
"I think this is wrong," Barnes says, "and I'm not going to take it."
Barnes is attacking the crisis in his usual style. He has been on the phone calling every newspaper in the area, trying to get the story of his banning published.
"I've bought my own tickets to the event," Barnes says. "I'm trying to convince them to give me a few minutes to speak before this group."
But Barnes is also bringing some insurance along with him this time. Recently, when Barnes attempted to make an uninvited appearance in Scottsdale, he was tossed out by henchmen of party chairman Burt Kruglick.
"I'm bringing a friend who is a six-foot-six-inch, 280-pound weight lifter," Barnes says. "Perhaps when they see him, they won't be so anxious to make a move on me. I'm not looking to make trouble. But I'm not one to stand by when something wrong is taking place." Barnes wants the media, especially television cameras and photographers, to be on hand when he stands up and attempts to give his uninvited speech.
Barnes is running a tireless guerrilla campaign. There are lots of phone calls. There are constant visits to newspapers and political reporters, even to their homes.
The other day I was cleaning up the front yard and Barnes suddenly appeared.
He wanted to thank me for mentioning his campaign. He had already done this several times with phone calls. The phone calls also included a complaint because Harry Rosenzweig had been identified as a man with mob connections.
"I don't think I said he had mob connections," Barnes said, "and I don't want Harry to be mad at me." Barnes called back the next day to say that upon reading the column over again he liked it better.
Standing in the driveway, he thanked me once again for writing about his campaign.
Here's a man who walked around the city for months getting 5,000 people to sign his petitions so he could make a run at the Republican party's nomination for governor.
At 59, Barnes is a graduate of Annapolis with a record as a jet fighter pilot and a doctor's degree in education.
This campaign is not easy for him. He's been out of work almost two years and drives a car with 200,000 miles on the odometer. He owns two presentable suits and one presentable pair of shoes.
But he's a legitimate candidate. He has prepared his own position papers. He has a right to be heard in any forum the Republicans sponsor.
You would think the Republicans would be eager to give a candidate like Barnes his fair chance to speak.
This is, after all, politics. It's not brain surgery.
But somewhere along the line, Barnes has made the mistake of offending Burton Kruglick, the Republican party chairman. And Kruglick has decided that Barnes should disappear from the race.
Why, I wonder, does Kruglick have this much power?
"I'm not looking to make trouble. But I'm not one to stand by when something wrong is taking place."