Haley Barbour was the 63rd Governor of Mississippi, serving two terms from January 2004 until January 2012. He is only the second governor since Reconstruction to serve two consecutive terms, as well as only the second Republican.
Prior to his election in 2003, Mississippi was hemorrhaging jobs – especially in the manufacturing sector. Barbour’s campaign and governorship focused on expanding the number of higher skilled, better paying jobs. This focus resulted in Barbour’s successfully realigning Mississippi’s economic and workforce development systems as well as reorganizing job training efforts. He also led the way in enacting what the Wall Street Journal termed the most comprehensive tort reform law in the country. The year Barbour was elected, Mississippi had a nearly $700 million budget shortfall but under his administration the state’s budget was balanced. Later in his term, Barbour led Mississippians in their efforts to recover and rebuild following Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history. Because of his leadership, Haley Barbour overwhelmingly won his reelection campaign in 2007.
Barbour received national recognition for his guidance of Mississippi including:
- “Governor of the Year for 2006” by Governing magazine
- The Gulf Guardian Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his work to rebuild and protect sensitive coastal ecosystems
- The 2008 Adam Smith Medal from BIPAC for his pursuit of the principles of free enterprise
- The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award
From 1993 to 1997 Barbour served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, leading the GOP sweep in 1994 that resulted in Republican majorities in Congress for the first time in 40 years.
President Ronald Reagan made Barbour political director of the White House in the mid-80’s. He was also appointed to the Amtrak board by President George H.W. Bush, serving from 1989-1993.
In 1968 Barbour ran 30 counties for the Nixon Campaign; was State Director of the U.S. Census in 1970; and ran the unified state GOP campaign in Mississippi in 1972. In 1976, after supporting Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination, Barbour organized and ran the general election campaign for President Gerald Ford in seven states.
After serving two terms as governor, including two years as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Barbour returned to private practice at BGR Group in January 2012. This government affairs firm, founded by Barbour in 1987, was named the country’s top lobby firm by Fortune magazine in 2001. In addition, Barbour has become of counsel to the law firm Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada, PLLC, in Ridgeland, Miss., where he continues to focus on economic development.
A native of Yazoo City, Barbour attended the University of Mississippi and received his law degree in 1972. Barbour resides in Yazoo City with his wife, Marsha. They have two sons, Sterling and Reeves, and four grandchildren.