Via the Daily Caller, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has decided against a run for the White House in 2012. Those of us who have worked with him in several different capacities are disappointed, but not surprised. As an organizer, manager and politician with keen instincts and a strongly conservative philosophy, Barbour’s “fat redneck” frankness and in the White House would have been a welcome and refreshing change to the deflecting incompetence we’ve witnessed over the last 25 months.
You don’t always agree with Haley Barbour, but you never fail to understand where he’s coming from, nor do you ever believe that he’s made a bad decision even under the most uncertain and trying circumstances.
Lord knows, he’s seen decision-making situations under each and both conditions.
Now that he’s officially out, his influence, his organizing skills and his fundraising capability will be some of the most sought-after commodities in the months to come. Barbour was seriously considering a run as far back as June 2010 and I wrote about those prospects here.
Barbour is credited by many observers on both sides of the aisle as being one of the chief architects of the 1994 Republican Revolution that swept Democrat majorities from both houses of Congress. Barbour sensed blood in the water 16 years ago, and is credited with organizing a party-wide feeding frenzy that nationalized Congressional elections for the first time in the post-war era.
In his 2003 campaign for Governor of Mississippi, Barbour beat a conservative blue dog Democrat in a campaign that the Jackson Clarion-Ledger called "relentlessly well organized." The incumbent, Ronny Musgrove, was pro-life, anti-gay rights and wrote a letter in praise of the Alabama "Ten Commandments Judge," Roy Moore. Musgrove would have made conservative Republicans in other states blush, but he was beaten by a machine he simply couldn't compete with in, terms of fundraising, organization or message management.
Barbour also has reputation for not launching battles he doesn’t think he can win. If he thought he had a legitimate shot at the Republican nomination for 2012, his machine would have cranked up and been running at peak RPM by the time Labor Day 2012 rolled around.
I am personally dismayed by his assessment of his chances and his ensuing decision. Yes, he is a Republican “insider.” Yes, he has an extensive network of lobbyists and other backroom dealers. But he has those assets because those are the assets you need to get business done.
I can’t wait to see who he throws the weight of the “fat redneck” network behind. It probably won’t be a loser.