Haley Barbour, BGR Group founding partner, returned to BGR in January 2012 after serving two consecutive terms as governor of Mississippi, including two years as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. At BGR, he heads advocacy coalitions, lobbies on behalf of his clients and remains a major force in the Republican Party.
Barbour began his political career in 1968, dropping out of college to work on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign; in 1976, after supporting Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination, he ran Gerald Ford’s fall campaign in the Southeast. In 1982, he ran for U.S. Senate in Mississippi but lost to incumbent John C. Stennis. Barbour later served as political director of the Reagan White House. In 1987, he founded the government affairs firm that later became BGR Group.
From 1993 to 1997, Barbour served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, managing the 1994 Republican surge that led to GOP control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
In 2003, he was elected governor of Mississippi, assuming office in January 2004. During his tenure as governor, Barbour led his state to adopt what the Wall Street Journal called the most comprehensive tort reform in the country. His team generated numerous large economic projects in the energy, aerospace and automotive fields, including Toyota’s selection of Blue Springs as the company’s newest U.S. auto assembly plant, which was the most sought-after economic development project in the United States that year. In Barbour’s eight years as governor, per capita income in the state increased by 34%.
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Barbour received national recognition from the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council for his swift response to one of the worst natural disasters in American history. In 2015, he published the memoir America’s Great Storm: Leading through Hurricane Katrina. For his efforts to rebuild the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he received the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award.
Other awards during his tenure as governor included being named Governor of the Year by Governing magazine, receiving the Gulf Guardian Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in recognition of his work to rebuild Gulf Coast ecosystems, and receiving the Adam Smith Award from BIPAC to honor his pursuit of the principles of free enterprise.