Mississippi's two-term governor has been put to the test many times during his time at the governor's mansion. A busy man before he ran for and unseated then-Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove, Haley Barbour was no stranger to politics and specifically, the nuances that make up southern politics. Despite his political ambitions, Governor Barbour's most formidable opponent since taking office has been Mother Nature. He not only led his state through the devastation in the months following Hurricane Katrina, but most recently, the tornadoes that ripped through the state in April, 2010.
Before being sworn in as Mississippi's 63rd governor, Barbour worked as both a lawyer and a lobbyist and served as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the 1990s. In June, 2009, upon South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's resignation, Barbour was elected the new chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. Following in his father's footsteps, Barbour attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), but opted to campaign for President Nixon's 1968 bid for presidency. After returning to school, he graduated in 1972 and joined his deceased father's law firm.
In 2005, Governor Barbour faced what was surely his most formidable opponent. Hurricane Katrina devastated Mississippi and Louisiana in August of that year. Wasting no time, Governor Barbour was on the hard hit gulf coast as soon as it was safe to travel, where he remained for several days. He returned several times a week in those months following the storm's landfall. His legal background served him well as his constituents battled the insurance companies. While he was limited in his powers due to what could have been construed as conflicts of interest, he ensured the path was paved for his fellow Mississippi attorneys to protect homeowners all around the state.
Just when Mississippi residents thought Mother Nature had completed her devastation, April 2010 brought another battle. This time, Barbour's hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi, along with many other cities in Mississippi, was annihilated by tornadoes, with at least one that measured nearly a mile wide and is believed to have been on the ground for an extensive amount of time. Even before the storms had completed their pass through his state, he was on the scene to ensure there were no delays in getting help to those areas most in need. Mississippi lost ten citizens. President Barbour was back on the scene the next day and had already declared several counties in the state disaster areas so that there were as few delays as possible in picking up the pieces. He is quoted as saying, ''Tragedy brings out the best in people…you've gotta be proud of our people''.
Lawyer, Lobbyist, Business Owner and Governor – what's next for Haley Barbour? One thing that won't be an option for him is a third term in office. Mississippi has a two term limit on its governors. All bets are on Governor Barbour to raise the envelope once again. His leadership skills have been proven time and again and while no formal announcement has been made, it's entirely possible Governor Barbour will choose to remain in the legal field.