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Meet the Speakers: Haley Barbour

Haley Barbour headshot

Haley Barbour
Former Governor of Mississippi
Former Chairman of the Republican National Committee

Haley Barbour, one of the top political strategists in the U.S., put Mississippi on a new path in job creation, education, health care and energy. Previously he successfully served twice as chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 1994, under his chairmanship, Republicans won the greatest midterm majority sweep of the 20th century, winning GOP control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. After his stint as head of the RGA, Politico called Barbour “the most powerful Republican in politics.” He also recently returned to Barbour, Griffith, & Rogers (BGR Group), a lobbying group he helped found in 1991.

Governor Barbour has been praised for his handling of both the recent Gulf Oil Spill and Hurricane Katrina. He worked tirelessly and innovatively with local, state, and national leadership to tap into many resources of assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He created the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal to develop opportunities for south Mississippi to rebuild bigger and better than ever. Barbour also continued the good management practices and award-winning stewardship of about $24 billion in federal funding received after Katrina for housing, infrastructure, and a wide variety of other recovery work, including more than $5 billion where the state was given unprecedented control.

Governor Barbour’s first election in 2003 marked the largest voter turnout in Mississippi gubernatorial history, and he was reelected in 2007 with 58.2% of the vote. The Yazoo City, Mississippi, native is only the second governor since Reconstruction to be elected to a second consecutive term as Mississippi’s chief executive. He has focused on civil justice reform, controlling spending, prudent management of the state health care program, and new attention on Mississippi as an energy producing state that can help meet America’s energy needs in the future.

In June 2009, Governor Barbour assumed the role of chairman of the Republican Governors Association and served until after the November, 2010, elections. During Barbour’s chairmanship, Republicans went from 22 to 29 governors. For his leadership after Hurricane Katrina, Governor Barbour was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award, which is presented to a nationally recognized leader by the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council. He was also named Governor of the Year for 2006 by Washington, D.C.-based Governing magazine; awarded the Gulf Guardian Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his work to rebuild and protect sensitive Coast ecosystems; and received the 2008 Adam Smith Medal from BIPAC for his pursuit of the principles of free enterprise as Mississippi’s 63rd governor.