Just like Halley’s Comet only comes around every so often, so does a politician like Mississippi governor, Haley Barbour. He is completing his second term as governor and is term limited from seeking another term. Barbour, a lawyer by training, has one of the most impressive backgrounds of anyone on the political scene today.
He ran for the U.S. Senate in the early 80s (lost), worked in the Reagan White House, the campaign of Bush 41, and served as chairman of the party from 1993-1997. It was under his leadership that the party took total control of both houses of Congress. Republicans had not controlled the House in over 40 years. Barbour ushered in the “Gingrich Revolution.” He then became a founding partner of one of the most powerful lobbying firms in D.C., Barbour, Griffith, Rogers.
Just last year he became chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA). In all likelihood, Republicans will gain several governorships this November and Barbour will get all of the credit for this. The RGA has raised tons of money and is one of the best (if not the best) run political organizations in the country.
Recently, Haley and I were talking and I told him when he is ready to run for president that I wanted to be part of his team. He demurred and laughed, which told me everything I need to hear. Friends have asked how I could support someone like him who is considered a staunch conservative.
There are several reasons I will support him. First and foremost, Barbour is a “political” adult. He can be very partisan, but yet he knows how to cut a deal. He’s conservative, but not a purist. He’s mature enough to know how to win 70% of his agenda through compromise, rather than getting 0 % by standing on intransigent, rigid ideology.
He’s also great on TV. He can charm you with that southern drawl and eviscerate you with his sharp tongue. You would never be able to “Swift Boat” Barbour.
He’s conservative, but he doesn’t scare the Black community.
During his 2007 re-election bid, Barbour received the endorsement of former Democratic Congressman Mike Espy. He was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and later served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration.
Unlike most Republicans, Haley has room to establish and grow a healthy relationship with the Black community. Regardless of whether he runs for president or not, Barbour will be an immense power broker within the party. He is also guaranteed to be on everyone’s short list for vice president.
By November, Barbour will be hailed as the most influential Republican in the country. Political operatives who are not already aligned with a candidate are waiting for Barbour to make his decision known. He will have the best political machine seen since the days of Richard Daley of Chicago.
Just like Halley’s Comet is a rare occurrence, so is someone with Barbour’s background. He is the closest person we have to a Jim Baker (for years he was the party’s “fix-it” man) on the scene in the Republican Party. He has the gravitas to call warring factions together and have a “come to Jesus” meeting and people will respond appropriately.
Today’s political climate is made for someone like Barbour. He knows how to win and that means not seeking purity from those in the party. If winning is the goal, then pragmatism is the order of the day and Barbour is one of the few Republicans who can force various of wings of the party to coalesce.
Shooting stars create a great deal of excitement, and then quickly fade away. Haley is more like a shinning star that burns bright into the night. This is my Haley comment.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).
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