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Haley Barbour (R)

Former Governor of Mississippi (2003-2011)

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Why He Matters

Barbour's political resume - former chair of the Republican National Committee and founder of one of DC's top lobbying firms - might seem a disqualifying attribute in today's political environment, but it's served Barbour remarkably well over the past two decades.

Barbour was long considered among the top prospects for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination, but announced in April 2011 that he would not seek it.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association (June 2009-December 2010); Vice-Chair of the Republican Governors Association (2008-June 2009); Chairman, Republican National Committee (1993 to 1997); CEO, Barbour, Griffith, & Rogers (1991 to 2003); Director, White House Office of Political Affairs (1985 to 1987)
  • Birthday: October 22, 1947
  • Hometown: Yazoo City, Miss.
  • Alma Mater: University of Mississippi, J.D., 1973; attended University of Mississippi as undergraduate
  • Spouse: Marsha Barbour
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Office: State Capitol, P.O. Box 139, Jackson, MS, 39205, 601-359-3150
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Path to Power

Barbour was the youngest of three sons born to Grace LeFlore Johnson and Jeptha Fowlkes Barbour, a second-generation lawyer from Yazoo City, Miss. In 1950, when Barbour was just 2-years-old, his father died of a heart attack. Left to raise the boys on her own, his mother worked as a legal secretary at the family law firm.

Childhood friend Griffin Norquist recalled that when Barbour was little, his brothers put him on a bike and repeatedly slung him down the sidewalk until he could ride it. "He learned to swim the same way," Norquist said. "They just threw him in. He did not have an easy life."

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The Issues

As Mississippi governor, Barbour has been a fiscal conservative, routinely seeking-and often obtaining-significant budget cuts from the Democratic-controlled state legislature. In 2004, his first budget proposal included $709 million in spending cuts over two years, along with a threat to veto any tax increases that landed on his desk.

Critics, however, note that Barbour has twice vetoed a plan to shift the tax burden from groceries to tobacco products on the disputed grounds that it represents a tax increase.

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The Network

Barbour worked on behalf of former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott (R) and current Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in their 1972 campaigns for the U.S. House.

He served a stint as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, with Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) as vice chairman.

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