It's early morning. Already, the phone is ringing. Bob Barnes, the most unrelenting of the Republican candidates for governor, is calling. "I'm preparing another position paper," Barnes says tersely. "I'll drop copies off at both your office and home today. I consider this to be an important document, one that could change the course of Arizona history." Barnes, 59, like the legendary Don Quixote before him, is engaged in a battle he has only the slimmest chance of winning. But like that lovable and demented old knight errant, Barnes keeps raising his lance to challenge every Arizona windmill and windbag that crosses his path.
"I'm in this race to the end," he says. "I consider myself a true long shot." He shouldn't be able to make an impact on this race and yet he does.
Only this past weekend, Barnes' demand that Sam Goddard step down as Democratic chairman if he wanted to help his son Terry's campaign bore fruit.
Goddard has finally agreed to step down. The only one demanding such a move was Barnes.
His persistence against the odds is amazing. Out of work for more than a year, he's been able to raise a mere two thousand dollars in campaign funds. He writes his own press releases by hand and delivers them personally.
Barnes owns what he regards as two presentable suits, one pair of presentable shoes and a 1978 Ford with 200,000 miles on the odometer. For Barnes, driving from the west side of Phoenix to Republican headquarters is an adventure in itself.
Shunned and feared by all the other candidates, Barnes doesn't get invited to party functions. Infuriatingly, he never fails to appear.
Upon arriving, Barnes insists on bringing up subjects his fellow Republican cohorts want to forget. Worse still, Barnes keeps insisting they all submit to lie-detector tests to satisfy Barnes they are worthy of staying in the race.
Recently, Barnes turned up at the Registry Resort, where Vice President Dan Quayle was the honored guest. In his straitened circumstances, Barnes couldn't afford two hundred dollars for a ticket to the event.
But neither did he want to miss a chance to impress Republican voters who might be eligible to vote for him in the primary. So Barnes turned up at the front door of the hotel prepared to pass out his campaign literature.
"Everything was going fine," Barnes says. "I parked my car in the lot next to the hotel and then I walked over to wait for all those rich guys to show up in their foreign cars.
"I was passing out my literature as fast as I could when Burt Kruglick, the head of the Republican party, comes up to me." Barnes and Kruglick are not on good terms. Perhaps it's because Barnes keeps insisting publicly that Kruglick is nothing more than an errand boy for Harry Rosenzweig and that Rosenzweig is mob-connected.
The fatuous Kruglick has so many reasons to be insecure that Barnes' taunts have poisoned their relationship. Naturally, the sight of Barnes passing out handbills on a great Republican night was enough to send Kruglick into near apoplexy.
"Barnes, you can't pass out those things here," Kruglick growled. "The Vice President of the United States is here. Can't we have a little dignity?" "It's a free country, Burt," said Barnes, himself an Annapolis graduate and jet-fighter pilot. "I learned long ago I have the right to exercise free speech."
Kruglick hurried inside the hotel. Next to approach Barnes was a woman named Sylvia.
"This Sylvia has a very serious face," Barnes says. "She warned me that everyone inside the hall was getting mad because I was passing out my position papers. She threatened to call the police unless I stopped.
"Next thing that happens, the hotel security men come out and tell me that I'm on private property and that I'll have to leave." After much debate with the hotel security forces, Barnes made an apparent retreat from the field. But minutes later, he showed up inside the Republican gathering.
And this time, Barnes was sitting at the press table.
Barnes' reasoning was right on target. He figured that nobody else at the press table was paying to attend the banquet and so this was the perfect spot for a man to alight who didn't have money to buy a ticket. Soon, however, the security forces were surrounding him again, ordering him to disappear or else be arrested.
Barnes says he was surprised by this turn of events. This, of course, shows a certain naivete.
"In my mind," Barnes says, "I thought that Kruglick might play fair. I thought he'd even give me a break and introduce me to the crowd as one of the Republican candidates." A man in plain clothes showed him a badge.
"Burt Kruglick doesn't want you here," the man with the badge said. "Let's go." Barnes moved to the corner of the room and sat in an empty chair. This time seven security men surrounded him. They began reaching for the campaign position papers Barnes was carrying.
"You can either be carried out or walk out," the head cop told the gubernatorial candidate.
By this time, Barnes figured he had made his point.
"I got up and walked out with all of them around me," Barnes said. "Maybe the other guests thought they were part of my staff."
Only one thing about the candidacy of Bob Barnes is certain. It won't be ending anytime soon.