Haley Barbour, ‘most powerful Republican in politics’?

Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich are the Republicans getting most of the attention in pre-2012 opinion polls. Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels and even Chris Christie get some pub as well.

But a Politico piece today makes the case that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is more influential than them or any other GOP pol right now:

Barbour, who runs the Republican Governors Association, has more money to spend on the 2010 elections — $40 million — than any other GOP leader around. And in private, numerous Republicans describe Barbour as the de facto chairman of the party.

It’s not just because he controls the RGA kitty but, rather, because he has close relationships with everyone who matters in national GOP politics — operatives like Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie and other top Republicans running or raising cash for a network of outside political groups. Together, these groups are essential to Republican hopes of regaining power because Democrats are cleaning their clocks through more traditional fundraising efforts.

The political class, in particular, is consumed with Barbour’s behind-the-scenes endeavors — this week, with the $1 million he got from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Yet the reality is that Barbour has been uniquely adept at leveraging concerns about President Barack Obama into huge contributions from many others. Bob Perry, the Texas businessman who funded the Swift boat attacks in the 2004 campaigns, has given more than twice as much as News Corp.

Barbour’s stature has grown at the expense of cash-strapped, gaffe-prone Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, and he has funded his various efforts by tapping into broad dissatisfaction with Steele — at one point, Barbour complained to donors that he needs to raise even more money because Steele is stumbling. This past quarter, Barbour’s RGA actually matched the Republican National Committee in fundraising, something that hasn’t been done in at least five years and probably much longer, according to a POLITICO analysis.

(snip)

Barbour’s clout is also derived from his serious interest in running for president in 2012, a point he is making clear in private conversations. His logic, one adviser told POLITICO, is simple: When he surveys what most Republicans consider to be a weak field, he sees no reason he couldn’t easily beat them. He’s a better strategist and fundraiser than any other candidate currently considering running — and just as good on television and in debates, his thinking goes.

Personally, I think a white guy with a Southern accent will have a tough time beating Barack Obama in 2012, but maybe I’m being superficial.

The part about the RGA’s fundraising prowess and influence, however, is true enough — particularly with Real Clear Politics’ poll averages showing 13 governorships as solidly, likely or leaning Republican, before you even get to the eight tossups. (Georgia is listed as one of those eight.)

So, what do y’all think? How much influence does, or should, Barbour have among conservatives? Am I wrong about his chances in 2012?

92 comments Add your comment

Don't forget

August 20th, 2010
3:33 pm

Barbour is the only one who hasn’t embarassed himself with extreme comment to my knowledge so, yes, he is a good candidate. First?

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
3:38 pm

Kyle,

I’ve long held that if Republicans regain both houses of Congress in 2010 nobody is going to beat Obama in 2012 unless it’s Hillary in the primaries. If the Democrats hold Congress anybody on the Republican side will beat Obama, even a white guy with a southern accent.

Man, I thought josef was being cynical downstairs until you fired off that one.

jo yo

August 20th, 2010
3:43 pm

Who are you kidding. Sadly, Rush Limbaugh is the most powerful Republican/Conservative. Every Republican politician is scared of getting on his bad side.

Intown

August 20th, 2010
3:45 pm

If what that column stated is right, Haley Barbour is a better candidate than anyone in the Republican field now. Palin and Gingrich are mere media personalities that just rile people up but cannot win a general election. Romney just has no credibiltiy because he is a flip-floper on issues and his religion scares some members of other Christian sects.

I guess the real question is whether I ever want to read another column of yours after your apparent defense of intolerance in your last column about THE mosque in Manhattan.

md

August 20th, 2010
3:48 pm

Tend to agree with RW with one caveat – if the economy is still in trouble heading into 2012, Barry is gone………….

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
3:51 pm

md,

I think its even more likely Obama gets reelected in 2012 if Republicans take over Congress in 2010 and the economy is still in trouble. In that case the Republicans will share the blame and people will look at the Clinton years with a Republican Congress as the model to fix things.

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
3:52 pm

With one exception though I should add. If Obama goes veto crazy then he would be a goner.

Matti

August 20th, 2010
3:56 pm

Really? Hahahaha! Because the other 49 states are SO JEALOUS of how well Mississippi is doing?! Let’s see: DEAD LAST in median family income, nest egg index, percentage of students exceeding 8th grade math OR graduating high school (including equivolancy), visits to the dentist per capita, children under five who are read to every day, funding for public transportation, and seat belt use. Way at the top on the obesity scale, though!

Just like the GOP: Nothing but repsect for the man who puts his responsibilities aside to focus on the lining of his own pockets and, it would appear, shameless self-promotion among the “right” people. How is this news?

Bosch

August 20th, 2010
3:56 pm

RW and md,

“I think its even more likely Obama gets reelected in 2012 if Republicans take over Congress in 2010 and the economy is still in trouble.”

Which is why I hope the GOP takes back over the Senate (I don’t think they have enough support for the House).

And, if for no other reason just to hear the wingnuts scream and whine for another four years.

md

August 20th, 2010
3:57 pm

And Hillary is the wild card. She will weigh the odds of the dems holding the WH for more than 8 yrs. History says no, and she isn’t getting any younger. Her window will only be open for 1 or 2 more elections, with the odds decreasing if Barry goes 2 terms.

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
3:59 pm

Bosch,

You and I have been down this path before, but it’s the House that’s the important chamber to take back and at this point I’m pretty sure they will.

md

August 20th, 2010
4:01 pm

“Really? Hahahaha! Because the other 49 states are SO JEALOUS of how well Mississippi is doing?! ”

Well, using that as a basis, we just elected a guy from one of the most crime ridden and corrupt cities in the country.

Jefferson

August 20th, 2010
4:03 pm

Ideas, optimism and energy is the ticket — who has the shoes?

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
4:05 pm

Well, using that as a basis, we just elected a guy from one of the most crime ridden and corrupt cities in the country.

Is Jakarta really that bad?

JUST KIDDING!!!

:-)

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:07 pm

md,

You did? Really? This year’s general elections aren’t until November, Dude. Whom did you just elect? BTW, if you are trying to take another swipe at the President, that was lame. The President was never in charge of the well-being of Chicago. Gov. Barbour’s responsibility is actually the State of Mississippi. (Until he quits mid-term to do a book tour, join Fox “news” and be a “real American leader.” Heh…) I know you can do better than that.

Jefferson

August 20th, 2010
4:09 pm

The problem is no one looks for a good presidential candidate, just one who has the money to sway the soap buyers.

AmVet

August 20th, 2010
4:09 pm

So Barbour’s strengths are Rove, the Swift Boaters, mountains of dirty money and being from the Deep South.

Okay.

The only thing he needs to say to cement the deal is to say that the reason the GOP got annihilated in the most recent back to back elections was because “We weren’t conservative enough!”

Why do I keep imagining updated images of Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale in 2012 and 2016?

Jimmy62

August 20th, 2010
4:10 pm

I don’t know too much about him. If he’s a good ol’ boy, and strongly Christian, then he’s not the right guy (no offense to Christians). But I think the GOP’s best chance is to find someone with a big libertarian streak who can appeal to centrists and non-conservatives, and to conservatives on fiscal/economic issues. And to deemphasize social issues, because the more they talk about how bad gay marriage is and that sort of thing, the more they will turn off people like me who would love to find a fiscally conservative candidate they can support. Concentrate on fiscal conservatism, small-ish government, personal responsibility, and supporting the drivers of employment, and the GOP candidate will have a very big tent in his corner.

md

August 20th, 2010
4:12 pm

“The President was never in charge of the well-being of Chicago.”

Uhhhh, the Illinois legislature covers the entire State, and Barry represented the 13th District – the crime ridden south side.

You are the one that took the swipe, I’m just using YOUR basis…………..

josef nix

August 20th, 2010
4:17 pm

matti
Mississippi leads the other 50 states in amount of personal imcome donated to charity
Mississippi was the first state in the union to have every class room on line
Mississippi was the first jurisdiction operating under British Common law to grant women the right to own and dispose of property separate of men (an incorporation of Chickasaw law)
Mississippi College was the first institution of higher learning in the US to grant degrees to women
Mississippi University for Women is the first state supported institution for higher education for women
The first human lung transplant was in Mississippi in 1963

Burnita Shelton Mathews of Hazelhurst was the first woman federal judge in the United States and served in Washington, the District of Columbia.

Mississippi was the first state in the nation to have a planned system of junior colleges.

William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Tennessee Williams, William Grant Still, Leontyne Price, and that’s just starters for “high culture…”

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:19 pm

md,

C’mon, he’s the President. If you’re gonna take an off-topic swipe, then out of respect for the office, at least come up with something more substantive. We BOTH know you can do better.

My Barbour/GOP swipe was perfectly legit and totally on topic. If this does not demonstrate the GOP’s complete indifference to the issue of competency, and a total allegiance to the good ol’ boy money bags method of determining political loyalty, I don’t know what does. If you have evidence that my conclusions about the GOP are misguided, please provide evidence to the contrary. (Otherwise, come up with a better off-topic swipe.)

Bosch

August 20th, 2010
4:20 pm

RW,

Yeah, the House is the one with most of the nuts (from both parties) are — but somehow I see the Senate becoming more GOP than the House, don’t they have to win something like 40 seats?

josef nix

August 20th, 2010
4:20 pm

“Personally, I think a white guy with a Southern accent will have a tough time beating Barack Obama in 2012, but maybe I’m being superficial.”

Yes, you are being superficial…folks said much the same about LBJ and Jimmy Carter…

And let’s not forget, Ole Haley is Greenwood Leflore’s descendent…

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:22 pm

jo nix,

You forgot the aquisition of Houston Nutt! I am totally jealous of that! And yes, there are some beautiful things about the state, I’m guessing few of which have any relevance to the current governor. Am I right?

I am not here to dis your homeland, nor do I intend to measure pee streams all night in that regard. My contention here is that Gov. Barbour is a lousy governor, and that competence is at the bottom of the GOP’s list of requirements for a leader. If you want to argue THAT point, then go ahead.

Bosch

August 20th, 2010
4:24 pm

I see Barbour as a slobbering Southern wingnut who will alienate most people outside the South with his “OnWard Christian Soldier” attitude. I don’t see him being much of anything outside MS.

Bruno

August 20th, 2010
4:24 pm

“William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Tennessee Williams, William Grant Still, Leontyne Price, and that’s just starters for “high culture…”

And to that list, we must add famed children’s author, josef nix, #1,398,104 on the amazon best seller list with a bullet!!

Matti–A little Fri afternoon inspiration for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP-GTwy9jjI&feature=related

md

August 20th, 2010
4:25 pm

Off topic swipe?? Hardly. A politician is a politician is a politician. But if you insist on applying separate standards to individual politicians, then go for it.

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
4:26 pm

Bosch,

It’ll be a lot easier to net 40 House seats than it will to win 10 Senate seats.

md

August 20th, 2010
4:29 pm

“It’ll be a lot easier to net 40 House seats than it will to win 10 Senate seats.”

Odds currently at 1 to 4 for many states to have a double dip recession. Might be easier than one imagines.

Bosch

August 20th, 2010
4:31 pm

RW,

Yeah, the way the Democrats are swirling downward you are probably right. Either way, I really don’t care. If the GOP gets back Congress, Obama is pretty much guaranteed 2012 (as we’ve discussed) and it would be nice for the people to see that nothing will change if the GOP takes back the House/Senate and just for fun and theater see how they intend to lie, worm, and manipulate themselves away from the blame of it all.

josef nix

August 20th, 2010
4:31 pm

matti
Oh, get real about the dis…what else could such a post as yours be read as…

As for Barbour, I’m no fan by a long shot, but he’s pretty popular among a wide cross section of the state’s population for his role in getting things done after Katrina…and he did propose changing the name of Jackson… :-)

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:32 pm

md,

Dude, it’s just that I expect more from you. Being a state legislator of a district that included part of the city did not give him any control over the police department or other city officials. C’mon, I know you can bring it with the best! Why settle for lame just to be quick on the draw?

Bruno, nice piece. How was he working the pedals, I wonder?

Dusty

August 20th, 2010
4:34 pm

Wow, a real Southern governor who ran Mississippi like a fine watch during Katrina. A man with no shadows, no doubts about his character, his religion or his place of birth, a man who has advanced his state with expertise and can make a good speech. And….can raise money like it’s easy!!

Haley Barbour is the finest of “good ol’ boys” and that excellence is just what we need to offset the Harvard glace of Uppitiness and Inexperience in high places. It just doesn’t get better than that.

Now, I admit, the prejudice against Southerners by the uninformed may take a super effort to overcome. There will be the usual mention of two hundred year old history, the talk of prejudice while people can’t move to the South fast enough. Northerners from cities like Detroit, Cleveland & Chicago will mention the “poor South”. LIberals will crank out ol’ lies and find some new ones, but Republcians know that is coming. Liberals have already shown how ignorant they are in selecting presidental material. We see it evey day.
.
Now, if Haley Barbour will go about making good speeches in soft Southern ways to show people what real character, class and experience can give, he’ll be THE MAN. Give it your ALL, Haley. From coast to coast, we need a good man to lead us, not a proven loser. Haley Barbour is a winner. -

josef nix

August 20th, 2010
4:35 pm

BRUNO

Heh, heh! Did get my first royalties though…it’s the thought that counts! :-)

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
4:35 pm

Some of the most important elections for what they’ll mean to 2012 are the 2010 state house races. Redistricting will take place under the folks that win in 2010.

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:35 pm

jo nix,

I dont hate Mississippi. In fact, all the people I know from there who live HERE now are wonderful folks! I don’t think much of the Governor though, nor ours here in Georgia. Both have neglected their responsibilities to the people, IMO.

I HAVE learned from experience, however, that Friday afternoons mean jo nix is itchin for a personal fight, even when the general sentiments on the posted topic are similar to your own. Not going there with you today. Have a lovely evening!!

Dusty

August 20th, 2010
4:41 pm

Good grief, Bosch. Don’t Episcopalians sing “Onward Christian soldiers”? And don’t they slobber over their finest wine bottles every evening? If what you say about Haley Barbour is true, then you should be all for him. You almost make him sound like a liberal. I suggest you vote for him.

md

August 20th, 2010
4:41 pm

Well Matti, I equate it to the QB or the Coach – they get all the blame when the team doesn’t do to well, yet they don’t play all the positions. Your swipe is the equivalent. My counter with Barry was to show the fallacy of your swipe.

On the other hand, I would agree that as the ceo of the State, he gets all the blame regardless. Same with Barry, it is the nature of the position.

josef nix

August 20th, 2010
4:43 pm

DUSTY
As a native son, I’m afraid I don’t hold Ole Haley in quite the esteem as you, but also as a native son I can attest to the fact that he is immensely approachable, returns phone calls, has his own self-effacing sense of self irony and could run Louisiana’s Longs a race for gettin’ down to bidness…like I said, this is Greenwood Leflore’s progeny we’re talking about here…

md

August 20th, 2010
4:44 pm

“Both have neglected their responsibilities to the people, IMO.”

Care to expand. Just curious as to what you believe those responsibilities to be………

josef nix

August 20th, 2010
4:45 pm

matti

Friday itching to get into a fight…not really, Friday’s travelling music to me, but you DID cast the first stone…and then ran…hmmmm

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:49 pm

md,

You make a good point about blame. There’s always plenty to go around, but it never gets handed out evenly!

I will direct my comments back to what Mr. Wingfield posted, though. He talks about Gov. B’s heading the GOP Governor’s Association, controlling the kitty, and doing an impressive amount of fundraising and networking that stand to benefit his personal ambitions tremendously. My first thought on reading this was, “Gee, when does he fix education, transportation, and the plethora of serious issues facing the people of Mississippi?” Maybe if he spent a little less time lining his own pockets, he might have a plan to address their very real concerns. Just sayin’.

Bruno

August 20th, 2010
4:49 pm

“Now, I admit, the prejudice against Southerners by the uninformed may take a super effort to overcome.”

Just one (former) Yankee talking here, but you Southerners need to move past your belief that the rest of the country is prejudiced against y’all. Perceptions were negative during the Jim Crow era–and deservedly so–but I think most folks accept that we’re one big country now.

Kyle Wingfield

August 20th, 2010
4:51 pm

RW and josef nix: Like I said, it may be superficial, but a white guy with a Southern accent gets the Bush label more easily than other Republicans…and that still seems to be the Dems’ campaign strategy…

As for Barbour’s qualifications/competence: He got a great deal of credit for his handling of Katrina, and while Jindal got more of the limelight during the oil spill, I don’t recall much, if any, criticism of Barbour in that story. Which of course provides a contrast to Obama…

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:52 pm

jo nix,

I didn’t run. You interpret facts related to the topic as a slap of the glove to the face of everybody and everything that ever happened in your state. I don’t hate the ‘Ssip, but the current economic and well-being stats there aren’t great. Lighten up or don’t. Your choice.

Linda

August 20th, 2010
4:52 pm

I’m not pledging my support for Gingrich, but mentioning him reminds me of the Contract for America in 1994 which included 8 reforms:
require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to congress;
select a…auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of congress for waste, fraud & abuse;
cut the # of house committees & cut com. staff by 1/3;
limit the terms of all com. chairs;
ban the casting of proxy votes in com.;
require com. meetings to be open to the public;
require a 3/5 majority vote to pass a tax increase;
guarantee an honest accounting of the fed. budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting;
and 10 bills that were outlined that were to be introduced within the 1st 100 days of the 104th congress that would address balancing the budget, tax cuts for small businesses, families & seniors, term limits for legislators, & reform for social security, tort & welfare.
The Republicans should aim for these same reforms now &/or in 2012.

(Yes, I know congress & house are supposed to be capitalized but I no longer do on principle.)
(Their approval ratings are still in the teens because their families & staff still approve of them.)

Bosch

August 20th, 2010
4:53 pm

Dusty,

“Don’t Episcopalians sing “Onward Christian soldiers”?”

I don’t think that one is in our hymnal. I just remember that one from my Southern Baptist days of terror.

RW-(the original)

August 20th, 2010
4:55 pm

Kyle,

As I understand it the hottest selling souvenir where the Obama’s are vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard is a t-shirt with a picture of Bush captioned “Miss Me Yet” so being associated with Bush may not be a bad thing, but I also don’t think the knock on Bush was that he was a “white guy with a southern accent” it was more the “swaggering cowboy” label.

md

August 20th, 2010
4:56 pm

““Gee, when does he fix education, transportation, and the plethora of serious issues facing the people of Mississippi?” Maybe if he spent a little less time lining his own pockets, he might have a plan to address their very real concerns. Just sayin’.”

I for one don’t know how he does at multi-tasking, and have no idea what he is currently doing to address the situation as mentioned – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing anything. Do you have any evidence that he isn’t doing anything other than the rank of the few items in your previous post?? And you do know that one can lead a horse to water, but never make him drink.

Matti

August 20th, 2010
4:58 pm

More on Mississippi:

The governor might be a first-rate campaign fundraiser, but the Vampire King of Mississippi is one seriously badazz geriatric! Did you see what he did to that news anchor? He puts the Queen of Louisiana to shame. Also, their werewolves are way more vicious.